Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Adults and Adolescents with HIV
The information in the brief version is excerpted directly from the full-text guidelines. The brief version is a compilation of the tables and boxed recommendations.
Limitations to Treatment Safety and Efficacy
Adverse Effects of Antiretroviral Agents
Last Updated: December 18, 2019; Last Reviewed: December 18, 2019
Table 17. Common and/or Severe Adverse Effects Associated with Antiretroviral Therapy
Adverse effects for ARV drugs that are no longer commonly used in clinical practice (ddI, d4T, FPV/r, IDV, NFV, SQV/r, and TPV/r) have been removed from this table, with the exception of lipodystrophy and peripheral neuropathy associated with ddI and d4T. Because these effects may persist long after discontinuation of ddI or d4T, and patients may still present with these long-lasting toxicities, the drugs remain listed among the ARVs associated with these two effects. Refer to the product labels or to the July 10, 2019, version of the guidelines (found in the archived guidelines section of AIDSinfo) for information regarding the adverse effects associated with these older ARVs.
This table focuses on ARV-associated adverse effects that a patient may experience as a result of taking an ARV regimen. For information regarding potential adverse effects of ARVs on fetuses and newborns when certain ARVs are taken around the time of conception or during pregnancy, refer to Table 6b and to the Perinatal Guidelines.
In this table, N/A indicates either that there are no reported cases for that particular side effect or that data for that specific ARV drug class are not available. See Appendix B, Tables 3-9 for additional information listed by drug
|Adverse Effect||Drug Class|
|Bone Density Effects||TDF: Associated with greater loss of BMD than other NRTIs, especially when given with a PK booster. Osteomalacia may be associated with renal tubulopathy and urine phosphate wasting.
TAF: Associated with smaller declines in BMD than those seen with TDF.
|Decreases in BMD observed after the initiation of any ART regimen.||N/A|
|Bone Marrow Suppression||ZDV: Anemia, neutropenia||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Cardiac Conduction Effects||N/A||RPV, EFV: QTc prolongation||ATV/r and LPV/r: PR prolongation. Risk factors include pre-existing heart disease and concomitant use of medications that may cause PR prolongation.||N/A||N/A|
|Cardiovascular Disease||ABC: Associated with an increased risk of MI in some cohort studies. Absolute risk greatest in patients with traditional CVD risk factors.||N/A||Boosted DRV and LPV/r: Associated with cardiovascular events in some cohorts||N/A||N/A|
|Cholelithiasis||N/A||N/A||ATV: Cholelithiasis and kidney stones may present concurrently. Median onset is 42 months after ARV initiation.||N/A||N/A|
|Diabetes Mellitus and Insulin Resistance||ZDV||N/A||LPV/r, but not with boosted ATV or DRV||N/A||N/A|
|Dyslipidemia||ZDV > ABC: ↑ TG and ↑ LDL
TAF: ↑ TG, ↑ LDL, and ↑ HDL (no change in TC:HDL ratio)
TDF has been associated with lower lipid levels than ABC or TAF.
|EFV: ↑ TG, ↑ LDL, ↑ HDL||All RTV- or COBI-Boosted PIs: ↑ TG, ↑ LDL, ↑ HDL
LPV/r > DRV/r and ATV/r: ↑ TG
|EVG/c: ↑ TG, ↑ LDL, ↑ HDLL||N/A|
|Gastrointestinal Effects||ZDV > Other NRTIs: Nausea and vomiting||N/A||GI intolerance (e.g., diarrhea, nausea, vomiting)
LPV/r > DRV/r and ATV/r: Diarrhea
|EVG/c: Nausea and diarrhea||IBA: In a study of 40 people, 8% of patients reported diarrhea.|
|Hepatic Effects||When TAF, TDF, 3TC, and FTC are withdrawn in Patients with HBV/HIV Coinfection or when HBV Resistance Develops: Patients with HBV/HIV coinfection may develop severe hepatic flares.
|EFV: Most cases relate to an increase in transaminases. Fulminant hepatitis leading to death or hepatic failure requiring transplantation have been reported.
NVP: Severe hepatotoxicity associated with skin rash or hypersensitivity. A 2-week NVP dose escalation may reduce risk. Risk is greater for women with pre-NVP CD4 counts >250 cells/mm3 and men with pre-NVP CD4 counts >400 cells/mm3.
NVP should never be used for post-exposure prophylaxis.
EFV and NVP are not recommended in patients with hepatic insufficiency (Child-Pugh class B or C).
|All PIs: Drug-induced hepatitis and hepatic decompensation have been reported.
ATV: Jaundice due to indirect hyperbilirubinemia
|DTG: Persons with HBV or HCV coinfection may be at higher risk of DTG-associated hepatotoxicity.||MVC: Hepatotoxicity with or without rash or HSRs reported.|
Excluding rash alone or Stevens-Johnson syndrome
|ABC: Contraindicated if patient is HLA-B*5701 positive.
Median onset for HSR is 9 days after treatment initiation; 90% of reactions occur within 6 weeks.
HSR Symptoms (in Order of Descending Frequency): Fever, rash, malaise, nausea, headache, myalgia, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dyspnea, arthralgia, and respiratory symptoms
Symptoms worsen with continuation of ABC.
Patients should not be rechallenged with ABC if HSR is suspected, regardless of their HLA-B*5701 status.
|NVP: Hypersensitivity syndrome of hepatotoxicity and rash that may be accompanied by fever, general malaise, fatigue, myalgias, arthralgias, blisters, oral lesions, conjunctivitis, facial edema, eosinophilia, renal dysfunction, granulocytopenia, or lymphadenopathy.
Risk is greater for ARV-naive women with pre-NVP CD4 counts >250 cells/mm3 and men with pre-NVP CD4 counts >400 cells/mm3. Overall, risk is higher for women than men.
A 2-week dose escalation of NVP reduces risk.
|N/A||RAL: HSR reported when RAL is given with other drugs also known to cause HSRs. All ARVs should be stopped if HSR occurs.
DTG: Reported in <1% of patients in clinical development program
|MVC: HSR reported as part of a syndrome related to hepatotoxicity.|
|Lactic Acidosis||Reported with Older NRTIs, d4T, ZDV, and ddI, but not with ABC, 3TC, FTC, TAF, or TDF.||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Lipodystrophy||Lipoatrophy: Associated with history of exposure to d4T or ZDV (d4T > ZDV). Not reported with ABC, 3TC or FTC, TAF or TDF.||Lipohypertrophy: Trunk fat increase observed with EFV-, PI-, and RAL-containing regimens; however, causal relationship has not been established.||N/A|
|Myopathy/Elevated Creatine Phosphokinase||ZDV: Myopathy||N/A||N/A||RAL and DTG: ↑ CPK, rhabdomyolysis, and myopathy or myositis have been reported.||N/A|
|Nervous System/Psychiatric Effects||History of Exposure to ddI, ddC, or d4T: Peripheral neuropathy (can be irreversible)||Neuropsychiatric Events: EFV > RPV, DOR, ETR
EFV: Somnolence, insomnia, abnormal dreams, dizziness, impaired concentration, depression, psychosis, suicidal ideation, ataxia, encephalopathy. Some symptoms may subside or diminish after 2–4 weeks. Bedtime dosing and taking without food may reduce symptoms. Risk factors include psychiatric illness, concomitant use of agents with neuropsychiatric effects, and genetic factors.
RPV: Depression, suicidality, sleep disturbances
DOR: Sleep disorders and disturbances, dizziness, altered sensorium; depression and suicidality and self-harm
|N/A||All INSTIs: Insomnia, depression, and suicidality have been reported with INSTI use, primarily in patients with pre-existing psychiatric conditions.||N/A|
|Rash||FTC: Hyperpigmentation||All NNRTIs||ATV, DRV, and LPV/r||All INSTIs||MVC, IBA|
|Renal Effects/Urolithiasis||TDF: ↑ SCr, proteinuria, hypophosphatemia, urinary phosphate wasting, glycosuria, hypokalemia, and non-anion gap metabolic acidosis. Concurrent use of TDF with COBI- or RTV-containing regimens appears to increase risk.
TAF: Less impact on renal biomarkers and lower rates of proteinuria than TDF.
|RPV: Inhibits Cr secretion without reducing renal glomerular function.||ATV and LPV/r: Associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease in a large cohort study.
ATV: Stone or crystal formation. Adequate hydration may reduce risk.
COBI (as a Boosting Agent for DRV or ATV): Inhibits Cr secretion without reducing renal glomerular function.
|DTG, COBI (as a Boosting Agent for EVG), and BIC: Inhibits Cr secretion without reducing renal glomerular function||IBA: SCr abnormalities ≥Grade 3 reported in 10% of trial participants.|
|Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/Toxic Epidermal Necrosis||N/A||NVP > EFV, ETR, RPV||Some reported cases for DRV, LPV/r, and ATV||RAL||N/A|
|Weight Gain||Weight gain has been associated with initiation of ART and subsequent viral suppression. The increase appears to be greater with INSTIs than with other drug classes. Greater weight increase has also been reported with TAF than with TDF, and greater with DOR than EFV.||INSTI > other ARV drug classes||N/A|
|Key : 3TC = lamivudine; ABC = abacavir; ART= antiretroviral therapy; ARV = antiretroviral; ATV = atazanavir; ATV/r = atazanavir/ritonavir; BIC = bictegravir; BMD = bone mineral density; CD4 = CD4 T lymphocyte; CNS = central nervous system; COBI = cobicistat; CPK = creatine phosphokinase; Cr = creatinine; CVD = cardiovascular disease; d4T = stavudine; ddC = zalcitabine; ddI = didanosine; DLV = delavirdine; DOR = doravirine; DRV = darunavir; DRV/r = darunavir/ritonavir; DTG = dolutegravir; ECG = electrocardiogram; EFV = efavirenz; EI = entry inhibitor; ETR = etravirine; EVG = elvitegravir; EVG/c = elvitegravir/cobicistat; FPV = fosamprenavir; FPV/r = fosamprenavir/ritonavir; FTC = emtricitabine; GI = gastrointestinal; HBV = hepatitis B virus; HDL = high-density lipoprotein; HSR = hypersensitivity reaction; IBA = ibalizumab; IDV = indinavir; INSTI = integrase strand transfer inhibitor; LDL = low-density lipoprotein; LPV/r = lopinavir/ritonavir; MI = myocardial infarction; MVC = maraviroc; NFV = nelfinavir; NNRTI = non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; NRTI = nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; NVP = nevirapine; PI = protease inhibitor; RAL = raltegravir; RPV = rilpivirine; RTV = ritonavir; SCr = serum creatinine; SQV = saquinavir; SQV/r = saquinavir/ritonavir; TAF = tenofovir alafenamide; TC = total cholesterol; TDF = tenofovir disoproxil fumarate; TG = triglycerides; TPV = tipranavir; TPV/r = tipranavir/ritonavir; ZDV = zidovudine|
Table 18. Antiretroviral Therapy-Associated Adverse Effects That Can Be Managed with Substitution of Alternative Antiretroviral Agents
This table focuses on ARV-associated adverse effects that patients may experience as a result of a current ARV regimen. For information regarding ARV choices to use in individuals of childbearing potential and during pregnancy to avoid potential ARV adverse effects on fetuses and newborns refer to Table 6b and to the Perinatal Guidelines.
|Adverse Event||ARV Agent(s) or Drug Class||Comments|
|Switch from||Switch to|
|Bone Density Effects||TDFa||TAF or ABCb
NRTI-sparing regimens or regimens using only 3TC or FTC as the NRTI may be considered, if appropriate.
|Declines in BMD have been observed upon initiation of most ART regimens. Switching from TDF to alternative ARV agents has been shown to increase bone density, but the clinical significance of this increase remains uncertain.
TAF is associated with smaller declines in BMD than TDF, and patients show improvement in BMD upon switching to TAF. The long-term impact of TAF on patients with osteopenia or osteoporosis is unknown; close clinical monitoring is recommended in this setting.
|Bone Marrow Suppression||ZDV||Regimen not including ZDV||ZDV has been associated with neutropenia and macrocytic anemia.|
Nephrolithiasis and cholelithiasis
|ATV, ATV/c, ATV/r||DRV/c, DRV/r, INSTI, or NNRTI||This switch should be made if ATV is the presumed cause of the calculi.|
|Cardiac QTc Interval Prolongation||EFV, RPV||Boosted ATV or DRV, DOR, or INSTI-based regimen||High EFV and RPV exposures may cause QT prolongation.
Consider switching from EFV- or RPV-based regimens if patient is taking other medications with known risk of Torsades de Pointes, or in patients at higher risk of Torsades de Pointes.
Myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke
|ABC||TDF or TAF||ABC use has been associated with CV disease and cardiac events in some, but not all, observational studies.
TDF has been associated with lower lipid levels than TAF.
|RTV- or COBI-boosted PI regimens, EFV||RAL, DTG, BIC, RPV, or DOR||If lipids are a concern, see Dyslipidemia below.
Large observation cohorts have found an association between some PIs (DRV, FPV, IDV, LPV/r) and an increased risk of CV events. However, this association has not been seen with ATV. Further study is needed.
Hypertriglyceridemia (with or without elevated LDL level)
|RTV- or COBI-boosted EFV-based regimens||BIC, DTG, RAL, DOR, or RPV||Elevated TG and LDL levels are more common with LPV/r and FPV/r than with other RTV-boosted PIs. Improvements in TG and LDL levels have been observed with switch from LPV/r to ATV or ATV/r.c|
|LPV/r||Boosted ATV or DRV, INSTI, NNRTI||GI intolerance is common with boosted PIs and is linked to the total dose of RTV. More GI toxicity is seen with LPV/r than with ATV/r or DRV/r. GI effects are often transient and do not warrant ARV substitution unless they are persistent and intolerable.|
|Other RTV- or COBI-boosted regimens||BIC, DTG, RAL, or NNRTI||In a trial of treatment-naive patients, rates of diarrhea and nausea were similar for EVG/c/TDF/FTC and ATV/r plus TDF/FTC.|
|Hypersensitivity Reaction||ABC||Any appropriate ABC-sparing regimen||Never rechallenge with ABC following a suspected HSR, regardless of the patient’s HLA-B*5701 status.|
|EFV, ETR, NVP, RPV||Non-NNRTI ART||Risk of HSR with NVP is higher for women and those with high CD4 counts.|
|DTG, RAL||Non-INSTI ART||Reactions to NVP, ETR, RAL, DTG, and MVC may be accompanied by elevated liver transaminases.|
|MVC||Suitable alternative ART|
|Insulin Resistance||LPV/r||INSTI, NNRTI||Results of switch studies have been inconsistent. Studies in HIV-negative patients suggest a direct causal effect of LPV/r on insulin resistance. However, traditional risk factors for insulin resistance may be stronger risk factors than the use of any PI.|
|Jaundice and Icterus||ATV, ATV/c, ATV/r||DRV/c, DRV/r, INSTI, or NNRTI||Increases in unconjugated bilirubin are common with ATV and generally do not require modification of therapy unless resultant symptoms are distressing to the patient.|
|Lipoatrophy||Peripheral lipoatrophy (loss of subcutaneous fat of the limbs, face, and buttocks) is associated with prior thymidine analog (d4T and ZDV) use. Despite switching from these ARVs, fat recovery remains slow (may take years) and incomplete.|
|Lipohypertrophy||Accumulation of visceral, truncal, dorsocervical, and breast fat has been observed during ART, particularly during use of older PI-based regimens (e.g., IDV), but whether ART directly causes fat accumulation remains unclear. There is no clinical evidence that switching to another first line regimen will reverse lipohypertrophy.|
|Neuropsychiatric Side Effects
Dizziness, suicidal ideation, abnormal dreams, depression, ataxia, encephalopathy
|EFV, RPV||DOR, ETR, PI/c, or PI/r
INSTIs may be used, but monitoring is recommended (see Comments column).
|In most patients, EFV-related CNS effects subside within 4 weeks after initiation of the drug, but in some patients, ataxia or encephalopathy may appear months to years after EFV-initiation. Persistent or intolerable effects should prompt substitution of EFV.
INSTIs are associated with insomnia. Depression and suicidality have been infrequently reported with INSTI use, primarily in patients with pre-existing psychiatric conditions.
|Rash||NNRTIs (especially NVP and EFV)||PI- or INSTI-based regimen||Mild rashes that develop after initiation of NNRTIs other than NVP rarely require treatment switch. When serious rash develops due to any NNRTI, switch to another drug class.|
|DRV/c, DRV/r||ATV/c, ATV/r, or another drug class (e.g., INSTI)||Mild rashes following DRV/r use may resolve without modification of therapy. For more severe reactions, change to an alternative boosted PI or an agent from another drug class.|
Including proximal renal tubulopathy and elevated creatinine
|TDFa||ABC,b TAF (for patients with CrCl >30 mL/min, unless on chronic hemodialysis), NRTI-sparing regimens, or regimens using only 3TC or FTC as the NRTI may be considered if appropriate.||TDF may cause tubulopathy.
Switching from TDF to TAF is associated with improvement in proteinuria and renal biomarkers. The long-term impact of TAF on patients with pre-existing renal disease, including overt proximal tubulopathy, is unknown, and close clinical monitoring is recommended in this setting.
|ATV/c, ATV/r, LPV/r||BIC, DTG, EVG/c/TAF/FTC, RAL, boosted DRV, or NNRTI||COBI, DTG, BIC, and, to a lesser extent, RPV, can increase SCr through inhibition of creatinine secretion. This effect does not affect glomerular filtration. However, assess patient for renal dysfunction if SCr increases by >0.4 mg/dL.|
|a In patients with chronic active HBV infection, another agent that is active against HBV should be substituted for TDF.
bABC should be used only in patients known to be HLA-B*5701 negative.
c TDF reduces ATV levels; therefore, unboosted ATV should not be coadministered with TDF.
Key: 33TC = lamivudine; ABC = abacavir; ART = antiretroviral therapy; ARV = antiretroviral; ATV = atazanavir; ATV/c = atazanavir/cobicistat; ATV/r = atazanavir/ritonavir; BIC = bictegravir; BMD = bone mineral density; CD4 = CD4 T lymphocyte; CNS = central nervous system; COBI = cobicistat; CrCl = creatine clearance; CV = cardiovascular; d4T = stavudine; DOR = doravirine; DRV = darunavir; DRV/c = darunavir/cobicistat; DRV/r = darunavir/ritonavir; DTG = dolutegravir; EFV = efavirenz; ETR = etravirine; EVG/c = elvitegravir/cobicistat; FPV = fosamprenavir; FPV/r = fosamprenavir/ritonavir; FTC = emtricitabine; GI = gastrointestinal; HBV = hepatitis B virus; HSR = hypersensitivity reaction; IDV = indinavir; INSTI = integrase strand transfer inhibitor; LDL = low-density lipoprotein; LPV/r = lopinavir/ritonavir; MVC = maraviroc; NNRTI = non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; NRTI = nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; NVP = nevirapine; PI = protease inhibitor; PI/c = protease inhibitor/cobicistat; PI/r = protease inhibitor/ritonavir; RAL = raltegravir; RPV = rilpivirine; RTV = ritonavir; SCr = serum creatinine; TAF = tenofovir alafenamide; TC = total cholesterol; TDF = tenofovir disoproxil fumarate; TG = triglycerides; ZDV = zidovudine