The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has revealed positive results from a clinical trial that evaluates antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the treatment of HIV.

NIH’s unit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) performed the trial. NIAID researchers examined blood samples from ten volunteers who had participated in a clinical trial assessing whether infusions of a broadly neutralising antibody could control HIV in the absence of ART.

Participants who temporarily stopped taking ART reportedly experienced viral rebound and resumed taking ART 22 to 115 days after stopping.

When treatment was temporarily halted, participants’ HIV reservoirs expanded and their viral load or the amount of HIV in the blood increased. Researchers also observed abnormalities in the participants’ immune cells.

“The findings could help design new trials to evaluate strategies to control HIV without drugs.”

However, after resuming ART after six to 12 months, the size of the HIV reservoirs and the immune parameters were found to return to levels observed prior to ATI.

According to researchers, results support the use of ATI in clinical trials to assess the efficacy of therapeutic strategies that seek to achieve sustained ART-free remission, which includes the absence of viral rebound following discontinuation of ART.

The findings could also help design new trials to evaluate strategies to control HIV without drugs.

ART helps the health of people living with HIV, as well as prolonging their lives and preventing transmission of the virus to others.

If taken correctly, ART can reduce viral loads, which are undetectable with standard tests.

In addition, the NIAID investigators are currently conducting a clinical trial to monitor the impacts of short-term ATI on various immunologic and virologic parameters in people living with HIV.