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Increase of drug-resistant HIV in Saharan Africa

Follow @WDMEllaCopeland The last decade has seen a significant increase in drug resistant HIV, according to experts. An article in the Lancet displayed...

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|Jul 23|magazine7 min read

The last decade has seen a significant increase in drug resistant HIV, according to experts.

An article in the Lancet displayed the results of a study of 26,000 untreated HIV cases in sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade, with results showing that resistance to drugs could build up if people fail to keep up with their regimes.

Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and University College London (UCL), who conducted the study, found the most rapid increase in drug resistance occurred in East Africa, where 29 percent of cases become resistant per year. In Southern Africa, this number was lower at 14 percent per year.

 

Writing in the Lancet, researchers Dr Silvia Bertagnolio from WHO and Dr Ravinsra Gupta from UCL said: "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."

Drug resistance is a consequence of people not taking their medication properly, and stands at around 10 percent in the UK and US. In western countries, close monitoring and the availability of other medication mean people can switch to other drugs if they develop resistance.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr Gupta explained that very basic measures could help people to adhere to their regimes, such as access to food and clean water so they can take their drugs, and close monitoring with patients: "This work gives us an early-warning that things could get worse" he said.

More treatment options and closer monitoring of cases could drastically reduce the number of those suffering from resistance in Africa.