As stavudine remains an important and widely prescribed drug in resource-limited settings, the effect of a reduced dose of stavudine (from 40 mg to 30 mg) on outcomes of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) remains an important public health question.
We analyzed prospectively collected data from the Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. We assessed the relationship between stavudine dose and six- and/or 12-month outcomes of stavudine substitution, failure to suppress viral load to below 400 copies/ml, development of peripheral neuropathy, lipoatrophy and hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis. Since individuals with a baseline weight of less than 60 kg were expected to have received the same dose of stavudine throughout the study period, analysis was restricted to individuals who weighed 60 kg or more at baseline. Data were analyzed using logistic regression.
Between 1 April 2004 and 30 September 2009, 3910 patients were initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) with a recorded stavudine dose and were included in the analysis. Of these, 2445 (62.5%) received a 40 mg stavudine dose while 1565 (37.5%) received 30 mg. In multivariate analysis, patients receiving a 40 mg dose were more likely to discontinue stavudine use (adjusted odds ratio, OR 1.71; 95% confidence limits, CI 1.13-2.57) than those receiving 30 mg by 12 months on ART. Additionally, patients receiving 40 mg doses of stavudine were more likely to report peripheral neuropathy (OR 3.12; 95% CI 1.86-5.25), lipoatrophy (OR 11.8; 95% CI 3.2-43.8) and hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis (OR 8.37; 95% CI 3.83-18.29) in the same time period. Failure to suppress HIV viral load within 12 months of HAART initiation was somewhat more common among those given 40 mg doses (OR 1.62; 95% CI 0.88, 2.97) although this result lacked precision. Sensitivity analyses accounting for death and loss to follow up generally supported these estimates.
Lower stavudine dosage is associated with fewer reports of several stavudine-associated adverse events and also a lower risk of stavudine discontinuation within the first year on ART.