A concurrent prospective study was conducted from 2001 to 2003 to assess factors associated with adverse reactions among individuals initiating antiretroviral therapy at two public referral HIV/AIDS centers in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. Adverse reactions were obtained from medical charts reviewed up to 12 months after the first antiretroviral prescription. Cox proportional hazard model was used to perform univariate and multivariate analyses. Relative hazards (RH) were estimated with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Among 397 charts reviewed, 377 (95.0%) had precise information on adverse reactions and initial antiretroviral treatment. Most patients received triple combination regimens including nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors. At least one adverse reaction was recorded on 34.5% (N = 130) of the medical charts (0.17 adverse reactions/100 person-day), while nausea (14.5%) and vomiting (13.1%) were the most common ones. Variables independently associated with adverse reactions were: regimens with nevirapine (RH = 1.78; 95% CI = 1.07-2.96), indinavir or indinavir/ritonavir combinations (RH = 2.05; 95% CI = 1.15-3.64), female patients (RH = 1.93; 95% CI = 1.31-2.83), 5 or more outpatient visits (RH = 1.94; 95% CI = 1.25-3.01), non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy (RH = 2.38; 95% CI = 1.62-3.51), and a CD4+ count of 200 to 500 cells/mm³ (RH = 2.66; 95% CI = 1.19-5.90). An independent and negative association was also found for alcohol use (RH = 0.55; 95% CI = 0.33-0.90). Adverse reactions were substantial among participants initiating antiretroviral therapy. Specially elaborated protocols in HIV/AIDS referral centers may improve the diagnosis, management and prevention of adverse reactions, thus contributing to improving adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected patients
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