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BACKGROUND:HIV-infected individuals on antiretroviral therapy (ART) require treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) when infected with malaria. Artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is the most commonly used ACT for treatment of falciparum malaria in Africa but there is limited evidence on the safety and efficacy of AL in HIV-infected individuals on ART, among whom drug-drug interactions are expected. Day-42 adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) and incidence of adverse events was assessed in HIV-infected individuals on efavirenz-based ART with uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with AL. METHODS:A prospective, open label, non-randomized, interventional clinical trial was conducted at St Paul's Hospital in northern Zambia, involving 152 patients aged 15-65 years with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, who were on efavirenz-based ART. They received a 3-day directly observed standard treatment of AL and were followed up until day 63. Day-42 polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-corrected ACPRs (95% confidence interval [CI]) were calculated for the intention-to-treat population. RESULTS:Enrolled patients had a baseline geometric mean (95% CI) parasite density of 1108 (841-1463) parasites/µL; 16.4% (25/152) of the participants had a recurrent malaria episode by day 42. However, PCR data was available for 17 out of the 25 patients who had malaria recurrence. Among all the 17 patients, PCR findings demonstrated malaria re-infection, making the PCR-adjusted day-42 ACPR 100% in the 144 patients who could be evaluated. Even when eight patients with missing PCR data were considered very conservatively as failures, the day-42 ACPR was over 94%. None of the participants, disease or treatment characteristics, including day-7 lumefantrine concentrations, predicted the risk of malaria recurrence by day 42. AL was well tolerated following administration. There were only two cases of grade 3 neutropaenia and one serious adverse event of lobar pneumonia, none of which was judged as probably related to intake of AL. CONCLUSIONS:AL was well tolerated and efficacious in treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria in HIV co-infected adults on efavirenz-based ART. However, a higher than anticipated proportion of participants experienced malaria re-infection, which highlights the need for additional malaria prevention measures in this sub-population after treatment with AL. Trial registration Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR): PACTR201311000659400. Registered on 4 October 2013.

Original publication





Malaria journal

Publication Date





University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.