How risky is duo therapy option
Jan 19, 2009
Dear Doctor Young My doc has recently suggested that I try removing AZT from my combo and just take Raltegravir and Etravirine. I have side effects (muscular pains and lipoatrophy from AZT and have previous heart attack). I am unable to tolerate tenofovir or ritonavir boosted protease and have resistance to 3tc. My counts are viral load undetectable, cd4 260, cd4 % 11.78 and cd4/cd8 ratio of 0.16. He's suggesting careful monitoring but I'm very wary as my first combo was duo therpay and failed in a year of starting. What are your feelings on this. Many thanks
Response from Dr. Young
Hello and thank you for your post.
To be clear, dual nucleoside therapy is very different from other potential two-drug regimens, such as the one that you're describing. I'm concerned, though if you already have evidence of resistance to some drugs already that you could have a weakened two drug regimen. The problem here is that both raltegravir (Isentress) and etravirine (Intelence) don't require a lot of mutations for the virus to become resistant.
Provided that your doctor has clear evidence that you shouldn't have resistance to etravirine (perhaps evidenced by the fact that you're undetectable currently), then the removal of the AZT could be entertained. I'd be very careful about not missing doses during this initial phase; if you were my patient, I'd monitor your viral load at least every 2 weeks for a month or even two.
I know this isn't a definitive recommendation; let us know how things go for you.
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