Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Drug Holidays

I'm on a drug holiday. My internist told me to take the holiday because I was suffering terrible cramps in my feet, hands, back and legs and she believed they were from a build up in the blood of a particular drug I take for a chronic condition.

I had never heard of a drug holiday before but it sounded reasonable so I followed her suggestion and yup! my cramps have dissipated after not taking the medication for a week.

According to Wikipedia, "planned drug holidays are used in several fields of medicine. They are perhaps best known in HIV therapy, after a study showed that stopping medication may stimulate the immune system to attack the virus.

Drug holidays are sometimes used to reduce drug side effects so that patients may enjoy a more normal life for a period of time." That's why my internist told me to stop taking my medication.

Now there is a report from ABCNews that says

HIV patients who take their HIV drugs intermittently are at a greater risk of infections, heart disease, and death compared to those patients who never stop taking their medicine, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This finding could end a long debate on the value of "drug holidays," an approach otherwise known as standardized treatment interruption (STI) and a popular strategy in the war against HIV and AIDS over the past five years.

So no drug holidays for people with HIV. No break from the terrible side effects of changes in body fat, liver problems, and heart disease. "It seems that …viral replication being suppressed is [perhaps] more important." Yes more important, but the breaks from medication will be sorely missed, I'm sure.


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