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Antiretroviral treatment in HIV-1 infected pediatric patients: focus on efavirenz

Authors Larru B, Eby J, Lowenthal E

Received 11 February 2014

Accepted for publication 13 March 2014

Published 29 May 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 29—42

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PHMT.S47794

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Beatriz Larru,1 Jessica Eby,2,3 Elizabeth D Lowenthal2,4,5

1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, 2Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, 3Villanova University, Villanova, 4Department of Pediatrics, 5Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract: Efavirenz is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), used for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1998, its indication was recently extended to include children as young as 3 months of age. The World Health Organization and many national guidelines consider efavirenz to be the preferred NNRTI for first-line treatment of children over the age of 3 years. Clinical outcomes of patients on three-drug antiretroviral regimens which include efavirenz are as good as or better than those for patients on all other currently approved HIV medications. Efavirenz is dosed once daily and has pediatric-friendly formulations. It is usually well tolerated, with central nervous system side effects being of greatest concern. Efavirenz increases the risk of neural tube defects in nonhuman primates and therefore its use during the first trimester of pregnancy is limited in some settings. With minimal interactions with antituberculous drugs, efavirenz is preferred for use among patients with HIV/tuberculosis coinfection. Efavirenz can be rendered inactive by a single point mutation in the reverse transcriptase enzyme. Newer NNRTI drugs such as etravirine, not yet approved for use in children under the age of 6 years, may maintain their activity following development of efavirenz resistance. This review highlights key points from the existing literature regarding the use of efavirenz in children and suggests directions for future investigation.

Keywords: efavirenz, human immunodeficiency virus, pediatrics, antiretroviral

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