AZT-based antiretroviral therapy is associated with lower increases in CD4 cell counts than other HIV treatment regimens, according to a study published in the online edition of AIDS.
Investigators analysed immunological outcomes in over 72,000 people starting first-line treatment in southern Africa. People taking AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir and various generic versions) had significantly lower increases in CD4 cell counts one and five years after initiating therapy, and were also more likely to remain severely immunosuppressed than individuals taking an alternative drug.
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for first-line antiretroviral therapy in resource-limited settings recommend that treatment should be based on nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) backbones of AZT and 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir), or tenofovir (Viread) and 3TC.
It is well known that AZT is associated with an increased risk of a range of long-term side-effects, especially anaemia. Some studies have also shown that people treated with AZT have smaller increases in CD4 cell count compared to individuals taking alternative NRTIs. However, these studies were small and had short duration of follow-up.
Read more at AIDSMAP here: http://www.aidsmap.com/AZT-associated-with-poorer-immunological-recovery-in-people-taking-first-line-HIV-treatment-in-southern-Africa/page/2653650/