Anti-HIV treatment is a long-term commitment. For most people with HIV, once treatment is started, it must be continued indefinitely, being careful to take all of the medications exactly as prescribed. This, however, is easier said than done.
There are occasions in which treatment needs to be stopped temporarily, and there are important issues to remember when doing this. Even if treatment interruptions aren't necessary, they may be desirable, given that anti-HIV treatment can cause long-term side effects, can be difficult to adhere to on a daily basis, and can be costly. Because of these and other challenges, there has been a lot of interest in the study of treatment interruptions, also known as "structured treatment interruptions" (STIs) and "drug holidays."
While treatment interruptions may have a number of possible benefits, they are only supported for certain HIV-positive people receiving anti-HIV treatment. If you are considering a treatment interruption, be sure to read this entire lesson and to talk with your healthcare provider about the information contained here. Under no circumstances should you attempt a treatment interruption on your own, without direct supervision from your healthcare provider. Treatment interruptions are still considered to be highly experimental and potentially dangerous.