OBJECTIVES: To study the initial ART regimens and the rate of switch of ART regimens used during the first 36 months in HIV-infected children with severe anemia and to evaluate their clinical and laboratory outcomes.
METHODS: We analyzed regional cohort data of 130 Asian children aged <18 years with baseline severe anemia (hemoglobin <7.5 g/dl) who started antiretroviral therapy (ART) between January 2003 and September 2013.
RESULTS: At ART initiation, median age was 3.5 years old (interquartile range (IQR) 1.7 to 6.3) and median hemoglobin was 6.7 g/dL (IQR 5.9-7.1, range 3.0-7.4). Initial ART regimens included stavudine (85.4%), zidovudine (13.8%), and abacavir (0.8%). In 81 children with available hemoglobin data after 6 months of ART, 90% recovered from severe anemia with a median hemoglobin of 10.7 g/dL (IQR 9.6-11.7, range 4.4-13.5). Those starting AZT-based ART had a mortality rate of 10.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) 4.8-23.9) per 100 patient-years compared to 2.7 (95% CI 1.6-4.6) per 100 patient-years among those who started d4T-based ART.
CONCLUSIONS: With the phase-out of stavudine, age-appropriate non-zidovudine options are needed for younger Asian children with severe anemia.