Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in adults, including pregnant women, with HIV: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Amitabh B. Suthar, Marco A. Vitoria, Jason M. Nagata, Xavier Anglaret, Dorothy Mbori-Ngacha, Omar Sued, Jonathan E. Kaplan, Meg C. Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis is used to reduce morbidity and mortality in people with HIV. We systematically reviewed three topics related to co-trimoxazole prophylaxis to update WHO guidelines: initiation, discontinuation, and dose. METHODS: We searched PubMed, Embase, WHO Global Index Medicus, and clinical trial registries in November, 2013, for randomised controlled trials and observational studies including co-trimoxazole prophylaxis and a comparator group. Studies were eligible if they reported death, WHO clinical stage 3 or 4 events, admittance to hospital, severe bacterial infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, or treatment-limiting adverse events. Infant mortality, low birthweight, and placental malaria were additional outcomes for the comparison of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis and intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnant women (IPTp). We compared a dose of 480 mg co-trimoxazole once a day with one of 960 mg co-trimoxazole once a day. We used a 10% margin for non-inferiority and equivalence analyses. We used random-effects models for all meta-analyses. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42014007163. FINDINGS: 19 articles, published from 1995 to 2014 and including 35 328 participants, met the inclusion criteria. Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis reduced rates of death (hazard ratio [HR] 0·40, 95% CI 0·26-0·64) when started at CD4 counts of 350 cells per μL or lower with antiretroviral therapy (ART) worldwide. Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis started at higher than 350 cells per μL without ART reduced rates of death (0·50, 0·30-0·83) and malaria (0·25, 0·10-0·57) in Africa. Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis was non-inferior to IPTp with respect to infant mortality (risk difference [RD] -0·05, 95% CI -0·12 to 0·02), low birthweight (0·00, -0·07 to 0·07), and placental malaria (0·00, -0·10 to 0·10). Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis continuation after ART-induced recovery with CD4 counts higher than 350 cells per μL reduced admittances to hospital (HR 0·42, 95% CI 0·22-0·80), pneumonia (0·73, 0·61-0·88), malaria (0·03, 0·01-0·10), and diarrhoea (0·61, 0·48-0·78) in Africa. A dose of 480 mg co-trimoxazole prophylaxis once a day did not reduce treatment-limiting adverse events compared with 960 mg once a day (RD -0·07, 95% CI -0·52 to 0·39). INTERPRETATION: Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis should be given with ART in people with CD4 counts of 350 cells per μL or lower in low-income and middle-income countries. Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis should be provided irrespective of CD4 count in settings with a high burden of infectious diseases. Pregnant women with HIV in Africa should use co-trimoxazole rather than IPTp to prevent malaria complications in infants. Further research is needed to inform dose optimisation and co-trimoxazole use in the context of expanded ART in different epidemiological settings. FUNDING: None.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e137-e150
JournalThe Lancet HIV
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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