Intermittent HIV Treatment Has ‘Poor Results,’ AIDS Care Experts Say
An HIV therapy strategy in which patients repeatedly take breaks from their combination drug regimens to reduce costs and slow the development of "debilitating" side effects has shown "poor results," according to a panel of 50 AIDS treatment experts convened in Chicago for a two-day forum sponsored by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, Reuters/New York Post reports. "People have gotten sick again. There have even been some deaths," Dr. Renslow Sherer of Cook County Hospital said of the "structured intermittent therapy" method. There is "increasing interest" in STI, as patients reach undetectable viral load levels but have to remain on the drugs indefinitely. By using STI "[y]ou're trying to reduce toxicity. We know people who have been taking the medicines for an extended period of time are having tremendous problems," Gregory Thompson, an IAPAC spokesperson, said. Potential side effects of the drug combinations include heart disease, fat metabolism problems and painful numbness and tingling in the extremities. The reduction of treatment cost, which can run $10,000 a year, is another goal of STI. More research needs to be completed on the treatment strategy, Thompson said (Reuters/New York Post, 7/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.