[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cotrimoxazole prophylaxis prolongs survival and prevents opportunistic infections, malaria, and diarrhea in persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Many countries recommend that individuals taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) discontinue cotrimoxazole when CD4 counts are >200 cells/μL. However, this practice has not been evaluated in sub-Saharan Africa.
Patients in the Home-Based AIDS Care program in eastern Uganda initiated ART if they had a CD4 cell count ≤250 cells/μL or World Health Organization stage III or IV HIV disease. In the program's fourth year, patients with CD4 counts >200 cells/μL were randomly assigned, by household, to continue or discontinue cotrimoxazole. Consenting participants were followed for episodes of malaria and diarrhea.
At randomization, 836 eligible patients had been receiving ART for a mean of 3.7 years, with a median CD4 count of 489 cells/μL; 94% had a viral load <400 copies/mL. Among those continuing (n = 452) vs discontinuing (n = 384) cotrimoxazole, 0.4 vs 12.2%, respectively, had at least 1 episode of malaria (P < .001), and 14% vs 25%, respectively, had at least 1 episode of diarrhea (P < .001). Compared to those remaining on cotrimoxazole, patients who discontinued had a relative risk of malaria of 32.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.6-275.0; P < .001) and of diarrhea of 1.8 (95% CI, 1.3-2.4; P < .001).
HIV-infected adults on ART with CD4 counts >200 cells/μL who live in a malaria-endemic area of sub-Saharan Africa and who abruptly discontinue cotrimoxazole prophylaxis have an increased incidence of malaria and diarrhea compared with those who continue prophylaxis. Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00119093.