API consensus guidelines for use of antiretroviral therapy in adults (API-ART guidelines). Endorsed by the AIDS Society of India.J Assoc Physicians India. 2006 Jan; 54:57-74.JA
With rational use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been transformed into a chronic manageable illness like diabetes and hypertension. These guidelines provide information on state of art, evidence based approach for use of ART in Indian context. When to initiate ART? Antiretroviral therapy is indicated for all symptomatic HIV infected persons regardless of CD4 counts and plasma viral load (PVL) levels. In asymptomatic patients, ART should be offered when the CD4 counts < 200/mm3 and should be considered in patients with CD4 counts between 200-250/mm3. Therapy is not recommended for patients with CD4 count more than 350/ mm3. Involvement of patient in all treatment decisions and assessing readiness is critical before initiating ART. What to start with? A non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) based regimen is recommended for antiretroviral naïve patients. The choice between nevirapine and efavirenz is based on differences in adverse events profiles; cost and availability of convenient fixed dose combinations and need for concomitant use of rifampicin. A backbone of 2-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) is combined with the NNRTI. Various combinations and ART strategies not to be used in clinical practice has been enlisted. How to follow up? Recommendations have been made for baseline evaluation and monitoring of patients on ART. These include guidelines on laboratory and clinical evaluation. A plasma viral load at 6 months after initiation of first-line ART is strongly recommended. Yearly estimation of lipid profile has been recommended. How to identify and manage ART failure? The guidelines recognize the issue of identifying ART failure late if only CD4 counts are used for monitoring. In the absence of resistance testing various second-line regimens have been enlisted. A boosted protease inhibitor based regimen is recommended in this situation to be combined with 2-NRTIs. Special situations Recommendations have been made for use of ART in HIV-TB, HIV-HBV, and HIV-HCV co-infected patients. In patients with active TB and a CD4 count < 200/mm3, initiation of ART is recommended as soon as the anti-TB treatment is tolerated. Efavirenz is the only ARV drug, which can be safely used with rifampicin. In pregnancy use of single dose nevirapine for reducing risk of mother to child transmission of HIV is not recommended, because of the risk of development of resistance. For post-exposure prophylaxis taking ART treatment history of the source patient is crucial in designing an effective regimen.