Patient-Reported Symptoms on the Antiretroviral Regimen Efavirenz/Emtricitabine/Tenofovir

Newly diagnosed HIV patients have an array of treatment options. Most (80%–90%), however, take a once-a-day antiviral regimen of efavirenz, emtricitabine and tenofovir (EFV/FTC/TDF), which also is recommended in current HIV treatment guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, and the International AIDS Society.

Researchers sought to better understand patient experiences on EFV/FTC/TDF, including health-related quality of life (HRQoL), compared to patients on other combination antiviral therapy. Some 1,759 HIV-infected patient participants were recruited from the ongoing, multi-site Veterans Aging Cohort Study. Researchers gleaned data from electronic medical records and administrative records. They surveyed patients to determine the symptom burden of 20 common symptoms and assessed patients’ HRQoL using a standardized instrument.

Patients on EFV/FTC/TDF had fewer symptoms (six) compared to patients on other combination antiviral therapy (seven). Those on EFV/FTC/TDF were significantly less likely to report numbness/tingling in hands/feet, nausea/vomiting, skin problems/rash itching, loss of appetite/food taste and bloating/pain/gas in stomach. Patients on EFV/FTC/TDF were 19 percent more likely to have a higher quality of life score than patients on other antiviral agents.

The authors write that studies such as theirs are increasingly important, evaluating medications after FDA approval in “a population that more accurately reflects a routine clinical population, in comparison with those who participate in randomized controlled trials.”