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Growing fears as resistance to HIV drug increases

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A new study by investigators has revealed that there is a growing resistance to the antiretroviral drug, tenofovir (Viread) with the group terming the trend “surprising and alarming”.

The researchers say their fear is based on the fact that the drug plays a major role in treating and preventing infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Ravi Gupta, study author from the Department of Infection and Immunity at University College, London in England, said; “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.”

Continuing, Gupta revealed that; “It is very potent drug with few side effects, and there aren’t any good alternatives that can be deployed using a public health approach. Tenofovir is used not only to treat HIV but also to prevent it in high-risk groups, so we urgently need to do more to combat the problem of emerging resistance.”

Read also: Zika virus now global emergency – WHO

The said resistance often occurs when patients don’t take their drugs as directed. To prevent resistance, people need to take the drugs correctly about 85 percent to 90 percent of the time.

The investigators estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of HIV patients that will resist
administration of tenofovir-based drug for the treatment of the virus is put at 15%.

They also fear that the efforts to curtail the global spread of HIV may be weakened especially because tenofovir-resistant HIV strains could be passed on to other people and become more widespread.

But Gupta said the fear that the drug-resistant strains could spread is not the case at this time.
“We found that virus levels were no lower in individuals with the resistant strain and were high enough to be fully infectious. We certainly cannot dismiss the possibility that resistant strains can spread between people and should not be complacent. We are now conducting further studies to get a more detailed picture of how tenofovir resistant viruses develop and spread,” he concluded.

Findings from the study were published Jan. 28 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.webmd.com

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