We have modeled highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for AIDS in rhesus macaques infected with a chimera (RT-SHIV) of simian immunodeficiency virus containing reverse transcriptase from human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HFV-1). Seven RT-SHIV-infected macaques were treated with a combination of efavirenz (200 mg orally once daily), lamivudine (8 mg/kg subcutaneously once daily), and tenofovir (30 mg/kg subcutaneously once daily). Plasma viral RNA levels in all animals were reduced by more than 1,000-fold after 4 weeks and, in six of the seven animals, were reduced to undetectable levels after 10 weeks. Virus loads increased slightly between 12 and 16 weeks of treatment, associated with problems with the administration of efavirenz. After a change in the method of efavirenz administration, virus loads declined again and remained undetectable in the majority of animals for the duration of therapy. Treatment was stopped for three animals after 36 weeks of therapy, and virus loads increased rapidly. Posttreatment RT-SHIV isolates had no mutations associated with resistance to any of the three drugs. Efavirenz treatment was stopped, but lamivudine and tenofovir treatment for two other macaques was continued. The virus load in one of these two animals rebounded; virus from this animal was initially free of drug-resistance mutations but acquired the K65R mutation in reverse transcriptase at 11 weeks after efavirenz treatment was withdrawn. These results mimic HAART of HFV-1-infected humans. The RT-SHIV/rhesus macaque model should be useful for studies of tissue reservoirs and sites of residual replication that are not possible or practical with humans.
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