Cases of antiretroviral-associated gynaecomastia reported to the National HIV & Tuberculosis Health Care Worker Hotline in South Africa

Journal Article


Journal Title

AIDS Research and Therapy

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Background: Gynaecomastia is associated with exposure to antiretroviral therapy (ART), in particular efavirenz. There is limited data on clinical characteristics of patients with ART-associated gynaecomastia in resource-limited settings and little guidance on the optimal management of this adverse drug reaction (ADR). We describe the clinical characteristics, management and outcomes of gynaecomastia cases reported to the National HIV & Tuberculosis Health Care Worker Hotline in South Africa. Methods: We identified all gynaecomastia cases in adolescent boys and men on ART reported to the hotline between June 2013 and July 2014. We collected follow up data telephonically at monthly intervals to document clinical management and outcomes. Results: We received 51 reports of gynaecomastia between June 2013 and July 2014; 11% of the 475 patient-specific ADR queries to the hotline. All patients were on efavirenz-based ART. Mean age was 34 years (standard deviation 12) and seven were adolescents. The median onset of gynaecomastia was 15 months after efavirenz initiation (interquartile range 6–42). Gynaecomastia was bilateral in 29 patients (57%) and unilateral in 16 (31%). Serum testosterone was quantified in 25 of 35 patients with follow up data, and was low in 2 (8%). Efavirenz was replaced with an alternative antiretroviral in 29/35 patients (83%) and gynaecomastia improved in 20/29 (69%). Conclusions: Gynaecomastia was a frequently reported ADR in our setting, occurring with prolonged efavirenz exposure. Testosterone was low in the minority of tested cases. Most clinicians elected to switch patients off efavirenz, and gynaecomastia improved in the majority.