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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Modelling imperfect adherence to HIV induction therapy

Rachelle E Miron1 and Robert J Smith?2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mathematics, The University of Ottawa, 585 King Edward Ave, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5, Canada

2 Department of Mathematics and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Ottawa, 585 King Edward Ave, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5, Canada

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-6

Published: 12 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Induction-maintenance therapy is a treatment regime where patients are prescribed an intense course of treatment for a short period of time (the induction phase), followed by a simplified long-term regimen (maintenance). Since induction therapy has a significantly higher chance of pill fatigue than maintenance therapy, patients might take drug holidays during this period. Without guidance, patients who choose to stop therapy will each be making individual decisions, with no scientific basis.

Methods

We use mathematical modelling to investigate the effect of imperfect adherence during the inductive phase. We address the following research questions: 1. Can we theoretically determine the maximal length of a possible drug holiday and the minimal number of doses that must subsequently be taken while still avoiding resistance? 2. How many drug holidays can be taken during the induction phase?

Results

For a 180 day therapeutic program, a patient can take several drug holidays, but then has to follow each drug holiday with a strict, but fairly straightforward, drug-taking regimen. Since the results are dependent upon the drug regimen, we calculated the length and number of drug holidays for all fifteen protease-sparing triple-drug cocktails that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Conclusions

Induction therapy with partial adherence is tolerable, but the outcome depends on the drug cocktail. Our theoretical predictions are in line with recent results from pilot studies of short-cycle treatment interruption strategies and may be useful in guiding the design of future clinical trials.