Along with cancer, aids is one of the most deadly diseases, particularly because it, after decades of claiming lives, remains incurable, though numerous treatments do exist to curtail the disease and help prolong the lives of those who are HIV positive. However, a new research has stated that a new drug-resistant form of HIV is on the rise.
Conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University College London (UCL), the study found that a drug-resistant HIV was on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa and that this had been steadily increasing over the past decade. Publishing their work in the medical journal, Lancet, the researchers found that the resistant to HIV drugs among HIV positive patients had increased considerably in certain parts of Africa, with East Africa seeing the largest rise of a 29 percent per year increase in HIV drug-resistant cases, while southern Africa, a 14 percent increase. West and Central did not experience any changes, while the report also mentioned that Latin America as well remained unchanged.
The report suggested that the increase in resistance could have possibly occurred from HIV positive people not following drug regimens properly and also the countries in which they live not having the proper support infrastructure to monitor these people and their health.
The study took into account 26,000 untreated HIV positive people from Africa, Asia and Latin America over a period of 10 years, from 2001 to 2011, and found that resistance was building up to a very particular type of antiretroviral, known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI). It was noted that the largest incidence of this was in East Africa, followed by southern Africa. It was also pointed out in the study that no other HIV drug classes were seen to be affected in the regions studied.
Authors Dr. Silvia Bertagnolio from the WHO and Dr. Ravindra Gupta at UCL wrote in their study, “The findings are of concern and draw attention to the need for enhanced surveillance and drug-resistance prevention efforts by national HIV treatment programmes,” adding, “Without continued and increased national and international efforts, rising HIV drug resistance could jeopardise a decade-long trend of decreasing HIV/Aids-related illness and death in low- and middle-income countries."
Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Gupta said, "Drug resistance is a consequence of people not taking their medication properly. We do expect to see drug resistance, and it's at around 10% in the UK and US. But here, we monitor people regularly and switch people to different drugs if they develop resistance."
The researchers added that present HIV drug regimens need not be changed in light of this news.