A new study discovered that HIV patients become resistant to one of the most efficient antiretroviral drug called tenofovir. According to scientists, the cause is inconsistent and improper drug use.
Unfortunately, if the HIV-drug resistance starts spreading, it could mean a lot of trouble for the prevention of the immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS, as well as the treatment of the illness.
The report featured in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases revealed that over half of people who still have uncontrolled HIV – in spite of following treatments – turned out to have an HIV strain resistant to tenofovir.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Shafer of the Stanford University’s has discovered that African HIV strains are a lot more resistant to tenofovir than European HIV strains. Roughly 60 percent of HIV patients in Africa had developed resistance to tenofovir, compared to the numbers in Europe, which were no higher than 20 percent.
Such a discovery poses a significant hurdle in the path of curbing the spread of HIV-drug resistance. As per instructions suggested in the report, experts and doctors alike should significantly work on improving treatment and monitoring of HIV patients, as well as disease surveillance.
Tenofovir doesn’t treat only HIV, but also hepatitis B. Researchers said that patients developing resistance to the antiretroviral drug will represent a very large loss for the medical community.
One of the researchers of the study, Dr. Ravi Gupta of the University College London’s, said that even though second-line drugs are becoming more and more available on the market, they are more expensive than tenofovir, and more side effects are associated with them.
According to the study, there are two ways patients can develop HIV-resistance to tenofovir: either they don’t follow the treatment as intended – which causes the virus to mutate – or they become infected by someone who is already drug resistant.
It’s possible for the virus to overcome the drug if the drugs are not regularly maintained, or if the patients don’t take the right levels of the drug. “Tenofovir is a critical part of our armamentarium against HIV, so it is extremely concerning to see such a high level of resistance to this drug,” said Dr. Gupta.
Meanwhile, further studies are already studying the possible causes of HIV becoming resistant to tenofovir, so that researchers can develop early warning systems and act on what they find.
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