We evaluated the enhancing effect of structured treatment interruptions (STIs) on HIV-specific immunity in chronically HIV-1 infected Korean patients. A prospective case-control study was done with a total of 10 subjects for a period of 26 weeks. Six subjects were on STIs and four subjects were on continuous HAART for comparison. The STI subjects underwent four periods of STIs. For those on STIs, HAART was stopped at week 0 for two weeks, and resumed thereafter for six weeks. Viral load and CD4+/CD8+ T cells were measured by HIV RNA RT-PCR and flow cytometry, and HIV-specific immunity was measured by an ELISPOT assay. HIV-specific cytotoxic T cell immunity was more pronounced in the STI subjects than in the continuous HAART subjects after 26 weeks (p = 0.011). The difference in cytotoxic T cell response in the STI group was more prominent than in the continuous HAART group (p = 0.011). Viral load after 26 weeks was higher in the STI subjects than in the continuous HAART subjects (p = 0.008). An HIV-specific cellular immune response can be stimulated by STIs in chronically HIV-infected Koreans. A larger study is warranted in order to further characterize viral and immunological parameters of treatment with STIs in cases of chronic HIV infection.
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