HIV/AIDS Virus Becoming Drug Resistant

The last thing anyone would probably want to hear would be that the HIV/AIDS virus was actually mutating and becoming more drug resistant. Although it is sadly true, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) says that it isn’t actually as bad as had been initially feared. Studies conducted from 2003 to 2010, and in over 20 countries, have shown that HIV drug resistance is still at a low 3.7%.

What is it?
The HIV/AIDS virus has increasingly been found to be able to withstand the effects of drugs that are used in antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens. This in turn means that the virus continues to reproduce even when the drugs have been administered. This is known as HIV drugs resistance.

What is the Cause?
Some of the very few causes of the drugs resistance are the lack of knowledge among patients and health workers, inability of the patients to strictly adhere to the ART treatment regimens, drugs being out of stock and lack of treatment monitoring by health officers.

How many types are there?
There are two types of HIV drugs resistance:

Acquired: When patients do not adhere to their ART regimen, they allow the HIV virus to mutate and become resistant to the drugs. This phenomenon is called ‘acquired drug resistance’.

Transmitted: Drug resistance can be transmitted. When an HIV patient is infected by a person with HIV virus that is already drug resistant, the attributes are also inherited. This phenomenon is known as ‘transmitted drug resistance’.

How is it treated?
When patients have been diagnosed to be infected with drug resistant HIV virus, their treatments (called the ‘first-line regimen’) need to be upgraded to a new regimen (called the ‘second-line’ regimen) in order to stay healthy. The main problem here is the fact that in 2010, studies done in low- and middle-income countries, found that the second-line regimen treatments were on average at least six times more expensive than the first-line regimens.

What needs to be done?
WHO has deduced from its studies that countries should give attention to and prevent mal-adherence, drug stock-outs and follow-up problems. In 2010, the organization also developed a Global Strategy for the Prevention and Assessment of HIV Drug Resistance. This strategy’s main goals are to inform the best medicines for first- and second-line regimens for ART as well as ART drugs for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmissions (PMTCT). WHO aims to support national HIV programs that were fighting the emergence and transmission of HIV drug resistance. Also, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the organization launched “Treatment 2.0”, an initiative to improve the next phase of ART in developing countries with affordable and highly efficient regimens.

The fight goes on…

Source:http://www.who.int/hiv/facts/drug_resistance/en/index.html

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