The Chronos study is examining whether stress levels and/or daily rhythm (the “diurnal variation”) can affect the HIV levels of people who are currently receiving AntiRetroviral Therapy (ART) treatment.
While there have been many advances in the treatment of HIV, specifically in ART, HIV can persist indefinitely, and there is still no cure. People who have HIV who adhere to their ART regimen typically have undetectable or very low levels of the HIV virus in the blood; however, this does not mean that the virus has been eradicated. The HIV virus has been shown to have a unique ability to hide inside cells and tissues, remaining dormant and then rapidly “waking up” if ART is stopped.
Measuring this silent HIV reservoir is key in managing this disease. One way of measuring it is a common laboratory test called Cell-Associated UnSpliced (CA-US) HIV RNA. This early marker of the HIV virus waking up is often used to test the effectiveness of new HIV medications.
Previous research has shown that in individuals with untreated HIV, there is a variation in HIV RNA levels at different times of the day; however, the effects of external factors — such as time of day or stress levels — on CA-US HIV RNA levels in individuals while on ART have not been previously examined. This study will investigate whether an individual’s stress levels and/or the daily rhythm affect the levels of CA-US HIV RNA.