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Researchers test
weekends-off anti-HIV regimens

Researchers test
weekends-off anti-HIV regimens

Scientists in Boston and Uganda are studying whether HIV patients can safely stop their medications every weekend, a move that would help ease drug-related side effects and cut the cost of antiretroviral therapy by nearly 30%, The Boston Globe reports. The approach also could benefit HIV patients who easily remember to take their pills on weekdays but become involved in other activities and forget to take their medications on weekends, the researchers say.

Scientists are unsure whether taking two days off of treatment each week will significantly lower long-term levels of the medications in their bodies; a significant amount could result in suboptimal levels of the drug in the body, which can allow HIV to mutate defenses against the medication. The researchers also aren't sure whether a five-day-on/two-day-off regimen would have any significant impact on the frequency or severity of drug-related side effects. They hope to discover answers to both questions through a 48-week study in Boston and an 18-month study in Uganda.

Early data from the Boston study shows that 23 of 26 study subjects who took weekend drug holidays maintained viral suppression and reported fewer antiretroviral-related side effects, but the researchers say longer-term data is still needed. (Advocate.com)

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