Antiretroviral therapy (ART) effectively controls HIV infection, suppressing HIV viral loads. Typically suspension of therapy is rapidly followed by rebound of viral loads to high, pre-therapy levels. Indeed, a recent study showed that approximately 90% of treatment interruption study participants show viral rebound within at most a few months of therapy suspension, but the remaining 10%, showed viral rebound some months, or years, after ART suspension. Some may even never rebound. We investigate and compare branching process models aimed at gaining insight into these viral dynamics. Specifically, we provide a theory that explains both short- and long-term viral rebounds, and post-treatment control, via a multitype branching process with time-inhomogeneous rates, validated with data from Li et al. (Li et al. 2016 AIDS 30, 343-353. (doi:10.1097/QAD.0000000000000953)). We discuss the associated biological interpretation and implications of our best-fit model. To test the effectiveness of an experimental intervention in delaying or preventing rebound, the standard practice is to suspend therapy and monitor the study participants for rebound. We close with a discussion of an important application of our modelling in the design of such clinical trials.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering