In the PEPI-Malawi trial, infants received up to 14 weeks of extended nevirapine (NVP) or extended NVP plus zidovudine (NVP+ZDV) to prevent postnatal HIV transmission. We examined emergence and persistence of NVP resistance in HIV-infected infants who received these regimens prior to HIV diagnosis.
Infant plasma samples collected at 14 weeks of age were tested using the ViroSeq HIV Genotyping System and a sensitive point-mutation assay, LigAmp (for K103N and Y181C). Samples collected at 6 and 12 months of age were analyzed using LigAmp.
At 14 weeks of age, NVP resistance was detected in samples from 82 (75.9%) of 108 HIV-infected infants. While the frequency of NVP resistance detected by ViroSeq was lower in the extended NVP+ZDV arm than in the extended NVP arm, the difference was not statistically significant (38/55=69.1% vs. 44/53=83.0%, P=0.12). Similar results were obtained using LigAmp. Using LigAmp, the proportion of infants who still had detectable NVP resistance at 6 and 12 months was similar among infants in the two study arms (at 6 months: 17/20=85.0% for extended NVP vs. 21/26=80.8% for extended NVP+ZDV, P=1.00; at 12 months: 9/16=56.3% for extended NVP vs.10/13=76.9% for extended NVP+ZDV, P=0.43).
Infants exposed to extended NVP or extended NVP+ZDV had high rates of NVP resistance at 14 weeks of age, and resistant variants frequently persisted for 6–12 months. Frequency and persistence of NVP resistance did not differ significantly among infants who received extended NVP only vs. extended NVP+ZDV prophylaxis.