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HIV treatment
interruption study halted

HIV treatment
interruption study halted

Study subjects stopping treatment were twice as likely to develop AIDS-related complications.

A large, global clinical trial launched in 2003 that aimed to see whether some HIV-positive people could take extended treatment breaks has been ended after data showed that those who stopped therapy were about twice as likely to develop AIDS-related complications.

The Strategies for Management of Antiretroviral Therapy (SMART) trial had aimed to recruit about 6,000 participants and continue through 2012. Half of the study subjects were to remain on antiretroviral therapy, and the other half would be allowed to stop therapy when their CD4-cell counts climbed above 500 and restart the drugs when the counts dipped back below 350 cells. By following the study subjects, researchers had hoped to determine if HIV patients could skip treatment if their immune systems remained healthy or if lifetime drug therapy is needed.

"Until we understand better who can stop meds safely and who can't, we advise people on meds not to stop taking them," SMART lead researcher Cal Cohen, research director at the Community Research Initiative of New England, told Poz magazine. "If you don't feel well on your meds, try to find other meds." (

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