21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


What Are the Ethical and Scientific Considerations of Analytical Treatment Interruptions?

September 16, 2016

Though it may not be the riskiest aspect of HIV cure research, ATI (analytical treatment interruption) is among the more controversial topics in the field right now, noted Karine Dubé, DrPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the start of her presentation. Dubé and a team of researchers and bioethicists drilled into the rationale and scientific utility of ATI. The result was a set of fundamental ethical criteria for the use of ATI in the context of HIV cure research:

  1. Strong scientific justification for the ATI, which includes the likelihood of generating valuable scientific knowledge: While ATI may become an important tool in the future and may be critical for studies of viral control, it may be less useful for other kinds of studies, including those aimed at eradication.
  2. Minimizing risks for participants who undergo ATI: Known risks include increased possibility of transmission with increased viral load, but information on ATI-specific risks is limited. Careful participant selection and study design (including using the shortest ATI consistent with answering the primary scientific questions), as well as monitoring subjects with sensitive assays, would be key to minimizing risks, according to the researchers.
  3. A robust informed consent process: The mandate to prevent unrealistic expectations of studies underpins this principle. Consent forms must detail reasons for using ATI, the risks involved and how they will be mitigated, as well as clear information about why ATIs are not part of clinical management of HIV.

Community engagement and input and ongoing collaborations between cure researchers, social scientists, behavioral researchers and bioethicists will also be essential in the development and rollout of these studies, the researchers concluded.

With HIV cure research on the horizon, explore some of the other top ethical questions being asked in advance here.

Olivia G. Ford is a contributing editor for and

Copyright © 2016 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

This article was provided by TheBodyPRO. It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016).


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