For many patients living with HIV-1, the efficacy of combined ART (cART) has made the infection turn to a chronic disease. Because cART is associated with a risk of long-term toxicity, switching patients with virological success to another therapy remains a major issue. Studies undertaken and published over recent years have shown that switching patients exhibiting virological suppression to less-drug regimens (LDR) is a possible option of maintenance strategy. The use of ritonavir-boosted PIs (PI/r) as the backbone of LDR-based maintenance therapy is consistent with their virological potency and a high genetic barrier of resistance. Atazanavir is the most documented PI/r regarding maintenance in dual therapy, with favourable results in terms of virological suppression, tolerance improvement and absence of emergence of mutations. Furthermore, atazanavir is the only commonly prescribed PI that can be used after withdrawal of ritonavir, with maintenance of virological suppression whatever the backbone of associated NRTIs. Based on clinical studies, and taking into account the characteristics of the patients included, one may consider that for any patient with a virological suppression on cART for at least 12 months, with the nadir CD4 >100 cells/mm(3) and an absence of encephalitis, an LDR-based maintenance therapy including atazanavir can be considered. Cumulative genotypes must be available to make sure that the LDR will not jeopardize future therapeutic options. The final decision regarding the most appropriate LDR must be guided by the objectives shared by the physician and his/her patient.
Less-drug regimen including atazanavir in maintenance treatment of HIV infection: how, who, when, why?