In the pre-highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era, clinical trials showed that interferon (IFN) treatment was able to delay AIDS progression and prolong survival. Along with HAART, ancillary use of IFN during primary infection and before HAART therapy initiation has been effective. Also endogenous IFN may positively affect the progression of HIV infection, as suggested in GB virus type C (GBV-C) coinfected patients. In this pilot study, we tried to prevent rebound of HIV replication in patients who interrupted HAART by covering the drug-free time with administration of pegylated IFN (PEGIFN). Twenty-four HIV-hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients who started IFN treatment for liver disease, after variable time from having interrupted HAART, were enrolled. HIV RNA was determined during a 2-month period. In patients who interrupted HAART at variable times before initiating IFN and, therefore, had experienced a complete viral rebound, IFN caused a significant reduction of viral load lasting at least 4 weeks. Moreover, 3 of the 4 patients who started IFN concomitantly with the HAART discontinuation showed complete control of viral rebound, delaying the resumption of viral replication for more than 2 weeks. These preliminary findings suggest that a structured therapy interruptions (STI) strategy may be feasible provided that IFN is administered during the drug-free times, possibly delaying drug resistance, lessening toxicity, reducing costs, and prolonging survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology