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Structured treatment interruption: a confusion in terminology

Bowden, Francis J.; Watson, D. Ashley R.


Canberra Sexual Health Centre, The Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, Woden ACT, Australia 2606.

Received: 4 January 2001; accepted: 18 January 2001.

The clinical benefits of temporarily ceasing antiretroviral therapy in patients with HIV infection remain to be established, but could represent an important strategy for management [1]. Scientific aspects aside, we believe that the term used to describe this practice ‘structured treatment interruption’ or ‘STI’ should be dropped immediately, before it is irreversibly fixed in the medical lexicon. The role of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in facilitating HIV transmission is now an important consideration in any public health planning for HIV control, and although there has been an acronymic flux of nomenclature in this area over the past 20 years – venereal diseases (VD) became sexually transmitted diseases (STD), which became sexually transmitted infections (STI) – the last is now widely used and recognized. As practitioners working in a country where there are strong professional links between HIV physicians and sexual health physicians, we were bemused when the term ‘structured treatment interruption’ appeared in the literature, because such an apparent ignorance of the terminology of a related discipline would not be possible in our setting. Surely, another equally descriptive term could be coined that avoids this confusion, something which is especially relevant in the age of the Medline search. We suggest ‘structured antiretroviral break’ or ‘SAB'.

Francis J. Bowden

D. Ashley R. Watson

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1. Ruiz L, Martinez-Picado J, Romeu J. et al. Structured treatment interruption in chronically HIV-1 infected patients after long-term viral suppression. AIDS 2000, 14: 397 –403.
© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.