Can young people living with HIV take weekends off treatment?

28 Jun 2022

A new trial has just opened, aiming to find out whether young people living with HIV can safely take weekends off their HIV medicines. The first young person has been screened to see if they are eligible for the trial in Uganda.

More than 2 million young people are living with HIV worldwide. Adolescents living with HIV often have worse outcomes than adults living with HIV. Taking tablets every day may be particularly hard for this group. New treatment approaches that make it easier for young people to take treatment could help improve their quality of life, and clinical outcomes.

The BREATHER+ trial is testing short cycle therapy, where people take tablets for five days, and then have two days off treatment. It will find out if short cycle therapy is safe and effective at keeping the virus under control, compared to continuous treatment.

The trial is taking place in Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The trial hopes to recruit 460 young people living with HIV, aged between 12-19 years old to take part. People who agree to take part will be randomly put into one of two groups:

  • Short Cycle Therapy group: where people taking part will take all their HIV medicines during the week but stop taking them at weekends (either Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday)
  • Continuous Treatment group: where people taking part will take all their HIV medicines every day without any interruptions

Taking weekends off treatment could help young people living with HIV socialise with friends or work without worrying about other people accidentally finding out their HIV status. It could give young people living with HIV some freedom from the burden of lifelong daily treatment.

People taking part in the trial will be followed up for at least two years. The trial hopes to release results in 2025.

The BREATHER+ trial is part of the EDCTP2 Programme supported by the European Union.

Further information: