Comparison of neuropsychiatric side effects in an observational cohort of efavirenz- and protease inhibitor-treated patients. Academic Article uri icon


  • To compare the extent of neuropsychiatric disturbances in two similar groups of HIV-infected patients treated for >4 weeks with either efavirenz (EFV) or protease inhibitors (PIs) as part of their antiretroviral therapy (ART).A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based cohort of HIV patients who received two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors combined with either EFV (n = 75) or one or more PIs (n = 77) for at least 4 weeks and were tolerating therapy. The extent of neuropsychiatric disturbances was evaluated based on self-reported symptoms using the psychological evaluation test SCL-90-R. Treatment duration was broken down into quartiles of 30-198 days, >198-365 days, >365-637 days, and >637 days.In the first 6 months of therapy, significantly higher (worse) scores were seen in 39/75 (52%) of the patients receiving EFV. The EFV-treated group had significantly higher scores for somatization, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, the Global Severity Index, and the Positive Symptom Distress Index, with trends for higher scores in paranoid ideation and depression symptom subcategories. Over the following 6 to 12 months of therapy, the EFV group scored higher than the PI group in somatization, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, hostility, depression, the Global Severity Index, and the Positive Symptom Total, but the differences were not significant. After 12 months of therapy, the EFV group had significantly lower scores than the PI group for somatization, interpersonal sensitivity, Global Severity Index, and Positive Symptom Total.EFV-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms can last up to 200 days after treatment initiation. However, symptom severity appears to decline over time in EFV-treated patients versus patients treated with a PI-based ART.