Concerns about immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) remain a barrier to antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation during anti-tuberculosis treatment in co-infected patients.
We assessed IRIS incidence, severity, and outcomes relative to timing of ART initiation in patients with HIV-related tuberculosis (HIV-TB).
An outpatient clinic in Durban, South Africa
642 HIV-TB co-infected patients
In a secondary analysis of the SAPiT trial, IRIS was assessed in patients randomized to initiate ART either within four weeks of tuberculosis treatment initiation (early integrated-treatment arm), within four weeks of completion of the intensive phase of tuberculosis treatment (late integrated-treatment arm) or within four weeks after tuberculosis therapy completion (sequential-treatment arm). IRIS was defined as new onset or worsening symptoms, signs or radiographic manifestations temporally related to treatment initiation accompanied by a treatment response. IRIS severity, hospitalization and time to resolution were monitored.
IRIS incidence was 19.5 (n=43), 7.5 (n=18) and 8.1 (n=19) per 100 person-years in the early integrated-, late integrated-, and sequential-treatment arms, respectively; P < 0.001, and 45.5, 9.7 and 19.7 per 100 person-years in patients with baseline CD4+ counts <50 cells/mm3, P = 0.004. IRIS incidence was higher in the early integrated- compared to the late integrated- (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 2.6, 95%confidence interval (CI): 1.5 to 4.8; P < 0.001) or sequential-treatment arm (IRR=2.4, 95%CI: 1.4 to 4.4; P < 0.001). IRIS cases in the early integrated-treatment arm were more severe (34.9% vs. 18.9%, P = 0.18); had significantly higher hospitalization rates (18/43 vs. 5/37; P = 0.01), and longer time to resolution (70.5 vs. 29.0 days; P = 0.001) compared to IRIS cases in the other two arms.
IRIS could not be assessed, due to LTFU, withdrawal or death within 6 months of scheduled ART initiation, in more patients from the sequential treatment arm (n=74) than in the late integrated treatment arm (n=50) and in the early integrated treatment arm (n=32). This study did not assess IRIS risk in non-ambulant patients and in patients with extra-pulmonary and smear negative pulmonary tuberculosis.
Initiation of ART early during tuberculosis treatment resulted in significantly higher IRIS rates, with longer time to resolution, and more severe cases of IRIS requiring hospitalization. These findings, particularly relevant to patients initiating ART with CD4+ counts < 50 cells/mm3, need to be considered together with the increased survival benefit of early ART initiation in this group. Clintrials.gov: NCT00398996