The World Health Organization Antiretroviral Treatment Guidelines recommend phasing-out stavudine because of its risk of long-term toxicity. There are two mutational pathways of stavudine resistance with different implications for zidovudine and tenofovir cross-resistance, the primary candidates for replacing stavudine. However, because resistance testing is rarely available in resource-limited settings, it is critical to identify the cross-resistance patterns associated with first-line stavudine failure.
We analyzed HIV-1 resistance mutations following first-line stavudine failure from 35 publications comprising 1,825 individuals. We also assessed the influence of concomitant nevirapine vs. efavirenz, therapy duration, and HIV-1 subtype on the proportions of mutations associated with zidovudine vs. tenofovir cross-resistance.
Mutations with preferential zidovudine activity, K65R or K70E, occurred in 5.3% of individuals. Mutations with preferential tenofovir activity, ≥two thymidine analog mutations (TAMs) or Q151M, occurred in 22% of individuals. Nevirapine increased the risk of TAMs, K65R, and Q151M. Longer therapy increased the risk of TAMs and Q151M but not K65R. Subtype C and CRF01_AE increased the risk of K65R, but only CRF01_AE increased the risk of K65R without Q151M.
Regardless of concomitant nevirapine vs. efavirenz, therapy duration, or subtype, tenofovir was more likely than zidovudine to retain antiviral activity following first-line d4T therapy.