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Author Topic: Early treatment and interruption makes no difference to disease progression  (Read 1368 times)

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Offline Rev. Moon

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Interesting study (even if not necessarily the most optimistic of news).  It needs to be noted however that this study focused on treatment interruption; other theories/studies out there address continued treatment for people who start ART early in their infection.


Early treatment and interruption makes no difference to disease progression
The largest study yet done on the whether immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART) may benefit people with recent HIV infection has found that immediate treatment followed by treatment interruption produced no reduction in the subsequent viral load ‘set point’ of people starting ART in early infection, and no reduction in the expected set point of patients starting treatment in acute infection, before seroconversion.

The ACTG 371 study did find that in subjects who interrupted their treatment after a year of treatment, a large minority (40%) of patients, and nearly half (48%) of those with a baseline viral load of under 100,000 copies/ml, still had a viral load less than 5,000 six months after ceasing to take their initial treatment regimen.

However the researchers were unable to say if their strategy produced improved immune control and clinical benefit compared to similar patients who do not start ART. They conclude: “Early ART followed by treatment interruption does not produce the profound alterations in disease course that were originally suggested by uncontrolled studies.”

The study recruited 121 patients, 50 with acute HIV infection (diagnosed within the first month, before antibody seroconversion) and 71 with non-acute but recent infection (diagnosed within the subsequent two months).

The study found that there was no significant difference in rates of viral suppression, viral rebound and CD4 decline during treatment interruption between patients who started treatment in acute infection and patients in early infection. This dashes hopes raised by smaller studies that pre-seroconversion treatment might produce permanent reductions in viral load and disease progression.

The researchers comment: "It seems highly unlikely that that any trial will enrol patients closer to the actual moment of infection than ACTG 371”. Trials based on trying to find even earlier cases and treat them would not “address the reality of primary infection as seen in the clinical setting," they add.

The study gave all patients a standardised regimen of antiretrovirals for a year. If patients’ viral load was below 50 at this point, they could then choose to interrupt their treatment. The primary endpoint was defined as a viral load below 5,000 24 weeks after starting treatment interruption.

Patients were re-started on treatment if they had one viral load over 50,000 or three consecutive viral loads over 5,000. One further cycle of treatment interruption was offered if patients achieved a viral load under 50 again and maintained a viral load under 400 for at least two months.

ACTG 371 originally started in 1999 as a study of an induction/maintenance strategy of treatment and subsequent interruption for patients in early infection. It was modified into a smaller study and patients were stratified into those with acute and recent infection as time went on.

The trial's age is reflected in the fact that its initial regimen was one that would now not be recommended, namely d4T, 3TC, abacavir and boosted amprenavir. Patients were allowed to substitute ddI for d4T and nelfinavir for boosted amprenavir in cases of individual drug toxicity and subsequently to substitute any other NRTI (including later ones such as tenofovir) for any NRTI toxicity but other protease inhibitor substitutions and NNRTI substitutions were not allowed.

Toxicity due to this regimen appears to have produced an initial high drop-out rate, such that only 73 out of the initial 121 patients recruited (60%) actually started a treatment interruption. Of the other 40%, half discontinued study treatment within the first year and half did not interrupt the study treatment.

Participants were 95% male and 70% white. There were no differences between those with acute and those with recent infection, except that those with acute infection had, unsurprisingly, a higher median viral load (210,300 versus 42,700). There were also no differences in the patients who actually started a treatment interruption except for viral load. Patients with acute infection who started a treatment interruption had a lower median viral load (109,000) than patients who did not start an interruption.

The proportion of the 73 patients interrupting treatment who achieved the primary endpoint of a viral load under 5,000 after 24 weeks was 40%, 43% in those with acute and 38% in those with recent infection, a non-significant difference. Forty-eight per cent of patients with baseline viral loads under 100,000 achieved the endpoint, including 57% of those with acute infection (8/14 patients).

In terms of secondary endpoints:
Median time to treatment resumption was ten weeks in acute infection and 14 weeks in recent infection;

Peak viral load during interruption was 28,000 in acute infection and 36,000 in recent infection. In the case of patients with recent infection, this was virtually identical to baseline viral load and there was therefore no indication of a reduction in viral load ‘set point’;

Time to peak viral load during interruption was eight weeks in both groups of patients;

During the initial phase of treatment interruption, viral loads doubled every week in patient with acute infection and tripled in those with recent infection;

CD4 counts decreased from 893 to 728 and 829 to 739 in acutely- and recently-infected patients respectively.


None of the differences between acutely- and recently-infected patients was statistically significant.

The researchers conclude that their study failed to establish “that early treatment enhances virologic suppression”.

However they also point out that it does not establish whether immediate and non-interrupted versus deferred treatment for patients diagnosed in early infection will improve clinical outcomes, nor does it establish “whether ART, if initiated in primary infection, should ever be discontinued.”

Several randomised studies are currently underway to answer these questions.

Reference

Volberding P et al. Antiretroviral therapy in acute and recent HIV infection: a prospective multicenter stratified trial of intentionally interrupted treatment. AIDS 23: epublication ahead of print, August 2009.
"I have tried hard--but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else."

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: Early treatment and interruption makes no difference to disease progression
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 02:09:19 PM »
The study recruited 121 patients, 50 with acute HIV infection (diagnosed within the first month, before antibody seroconversion) and 71 with non-acute but recent infection (diagnosed within the subsequent two months).

I would not have expected a big difference if you are comparing people with acute infection v. people with non-acute but recent infection.

Wouldn't it make more sense to compare these people with acute infection and with non-acute recent infection to those who started, say, after the first year of infection or several years later?

There was a recent study that determined viral reservoirs are more limited in type and are smaller in size in those who start meds within the first year, so it seems that would be the "sweet spot" to look at: starting therapy within the first year or after that.

Thanks for posting, by any chance do you have a link to the article?

« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 03:01:03 PM by Inchlingblue »

Offline Rev. Moon

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Re: Early treatment and interruption makes no difference to disease progression
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2009, 02:29:46 PM »

There was a recent study that determined viral reservoirs are more varied and larger in those that start after the first year, so it seems that would be the "sweet spot" to look at: starting therapy within the first year or after that.


I agree with you.  I believe that there are several variables to consider.

The link is below, my apologies for forgetting to post it  :)


http://aidsmap.com/en/news/AB63B30B-9CC3-4D99-AD1F-1D376A38BB93.asp
"I have tried hard--but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else."

Offline mecch

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Re: Early treatment and interruption makes no difference to disease progression
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 05:32:55 PM »
I thougth this had been proven several years ago and thus the treatment guidelines had changed to continuous treatment from start date. 
If we want to go back to treatment interruptions it would be seem to require the newest medicines and perhaps those in the pipeline, and the studies wont start until its ready.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

 


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