Background No trials of co-trimoxazole (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) prophylaxis for HIV-infected adults or children have been done in areas with high levels of bacterial resistance to this antibiotic. We aimed to assess the efficacy of daily co-trimoxazole in such an area.
Methods We did a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial in children aged 1—14 years with clinical features of HIV infection in Zambia. Primary outcomes were mortality and adverse events possibly related to treatment. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Findings In October, 2003, the data and safety monitoring committee recommended early stopping of the trial. 541 children had been randomly assigned; seven were subsequently identified as HIV negative and excluded. After median follow-up of 19 months, 74 (28%) children in the co-trimoxazole group and 112 (42%) in the placebo group had died (hazard ratio [HR] 0·57 [95% CI 0·43—0·77], p=0·0002). This benefit applied in children followed up beyond 12 months (n=320, HR 0·48 [0·27—0·84], test for heterogeneity p=0·60) and across all ages (test for heterogeneity p=0·82) and baseline CD4 counts (test for heterogeneity p=0·36). 16 (6%) children in the co-trimoxazole group had grade 3 or 4 adverse events compared with 18 (7%) in the placebo group. These events included rash (one placebo), and a neutrophil count on one occasion less than 0·5×109/L (16 [6%] co-trimoxazole vs seven [3%] placebo, p=0·06). Pneumocystis carinii was identified by immunofluorescence in only one (placebo) of 73 nasopharyngeal aspirates from children with pneumonia.
Interpretation Our results suggest that children of all ages with clinical features of HIV infection should receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in resource-poor settings, irrespective of local resistance to this drug.
Chintu, C.; Bhat, G.J.; Walker, A.S.; Mulenga, V.; Sinyinza, F.; Lishimpi, K.; Farrelly, L.; Kangason, N.; Zumla, A.; Gillespie, S.H.; Nunn, A.J.; Gibb, D.M. Co-trimoxazole as prophylaxis against opportunistic infections in HIV-infected Zambian children (CHAP): a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet (2004) 364 (9448) 1865-1871. [DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17442-4]