A recent study by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers indicates that a short-term pause in HIV treatment, known as analytical treatment interruption (ATI), does not effect the HIV reservoir or damage the patient's immune system.
The study, which examined antiretroviral therapy in people with HIV and its immunological and virologic effects, was designed to further study therapeutic strategies that induce the absence of viral rebound after a patient discontinues ART or sustained ART-free remission, an NIH release said.
According to researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the NIH, the 10 clinical trial participants subsequently experienced viral rebound and resumed ART 22 to 115 days after stopping treatment. During the pause in treatment, the patient's HIV reservoirs expanded and also experienced viral load which was seen through examining immune cells, the release said. Researchers note that after six to 12 months of resuming ART, patients' HIV reservoirs, along with their immune parameters, returned to prior ATI levels.
Researchers say the findings support using ATI in clinical trials while trying to evaluate therapeutic strategies for HIV patients, the release said. HIAID scientists say they will now conduct clinical trials to study the impact of short term ATI on people living with HIV.