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Antivir Ther. 2010;15(3):351-61. doi: 10.3851/IMP1542.

CD4+ T-cell-guided structured treatment interruptions of antiretroviral therapy in HIV disease: projecting beyond clinical trials.

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  • 1Service Universitaire des Maladies Infectieuses et du Voyageur, Centre Hospitalier de Tourcoing, Tourcoing, France.



International trials have shown that CD4+ T-cell-guided structured treatment interruptions (STI) of antiretroviral therapy (ART) lead to worse outcomes than continuous treatment. We simulated continuous ART and STI strategies with higher CD4+ T-cell interruption/reintroduction thresholds than those assessed in actual trials.


Using a model of HIV, we simulated cohorts of African adults with different baseline CD4+ T-cell counts (< or = 200; 201-350; and 351-500 cells/microl). We varied ART initiation criteria (immediate; CD4+ T-cell count < 350 cells/microl or > or = 350 cells/microl with severe HIV-related disease; and CD4+ T-cell count <200 cells/microl or > or = 200 cells/microl with severe HIV-related disease), and ART interruption/reintroduction thresholds (350/250; 500/350; and 700/500 cells/microl). First-line therapy was non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based and second-line therapy was protease inhibitor (PI)-based.


STI generally reduced life expectancy compared with continuous ART. Life expectancy increased with earlier ART initiation and higher interruption/reintroduction thresholds. STI reduced life expectancy by 48-69 and 11-30 months compared with continuous ART when interruption/reintroduction thresholds were 350/250 and 500/350 cells/microl, depending on ART initiation criteria. When patients interrupted/reintroduced ART at 700/500 cells/microl, life expectancies ranged from 2 months lower to 1 month higher than continuous ART. STI-related life expectancy increased with decreased risk of virological resistance after ART interruptions.


STI with NNRTI-based regimens was almost always less effective than continuous treatment, regardless of interruption/reintroduction thresholds. The risks associated with STI decrease only if patients start ART earlier, interrupt/reintroduce treatment at very high CD4+ T-cell thresholds (700/500 cells/microl) and use first-line medications with higher resistance barriers, such as PIs.

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