Does less frequent routine monitoring of patients on a stable, fully suppressed cART regimen lead to an increased risk of treatment failure?

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Objective:To investigate whether HIV-infected patients on a stable and fully suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) regimen could safely be monitored less often than the current recommendations of every 3 months.Design:Two thousand two hundred and forty patients from the EuroSIDA study who maintained a stable and fully suppressed cART regimen for 1 year were included in the analysis.Methods:Risk of treatment failure, defined by viral rebound, fall in CD4 cell count, development of new AIDS-defining illness, serious opportunistic infection or death, in the 12 months following a year of a stable and fully suppressed regimen was assessed.Results:One hundred thirty-one (6%) patients experienced treatment failure in the 12 months following a year of stable therapy, viral rebound occurred in 99 (4.6%) patients. After 3, 6 and 12 months, patients had a 0.3% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.1–0.5], 2.2% (95% CI 1.6–2.8) and 6.0% (95% CI 5.0–7.0) risk of treatment failure, respectively. Patients who spent more than 80% of their time on cART with fully suppressed viraemia prior to baseline had a 38% reduced risk of treatment failure, hazard ratio 0.62 (95% CI 0.42–0.90, P = 0.01).Conclusion:Patients who have responded well to cART and are on a well tolerated and durably fully suppressive cART regimen have a low chance of experiencing treatment failure in the next 3–6 months. Therefore, in this subgroup of otherwise healthy patients, it maybe reasonable to extend visit intervals to 6 months, with cost and time savings to both the treating clinics and the patients.

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