Dish with doc. Your MD can help you weigh the pros and cons of a break—and plan its length, restart markers and post-break combo.
Nip the non-nukes first? If you’re on Sustiva, Viramune or Rescriptor, ask if you should ditch ’em a few days before your other drugs. NNRTIs, or “non-nukes” (especially Sustiva), tend to stay in the body longer; if you drop them with the rest of your cocktail, you could be on NNRTI therapy alone for a short while. There’s no proof yet, but some researchers think this could induce resistance.
Go down for the count more. Most docs suggest getting your CD4s and viral load done no later than a month after you’ve dropped meds, every month thereafter until your numbers stabilize, then every other month and finally every third. Got drug resistance or a history of low CD4s? Do your numbers two weeks after stopping and every two thereafter.
Clean up your act. Enhance the drug detox process by reducing stress, exercising more and minimizing sugar and all that yummy fried stuff.
Take a “study break”! Joining an STI trial will ensure you expert monitoring and help improve breaks for future HIVers! Click “treatment interruptions” at www.aidsinfo.nih.gov, or call 800.TRIALS.A (Spanish available) to connect to these trials:
CPCRA “SMART” (www.smart-trial.org) Continuous vs. on/off treatment
AACTG 5068 STIs with vs. without ALVAC experimental vaccine
AACTG 5086 and CPCRA 064 Immediate vs. deferred (four-month STI) treatment for salvage therapy
AACTG 5170 Effects of stopping HAART VA Cooperative Studies Program 512 “OPTIMA” standard HAART vs. “mega-HAART” with and without STI in salvage situation; veterans only, call local VA hospital
AMP 720 STI with vs. without experimental drug Ampligen; call 215.988.0080
AACTG 371 5-drug combo followed by 24-week STI; newly positive only