A recent study involving patients in several African countries found that HIV strains are becoming increasingly resistant to frontline drug called Tenofovir.
Researchers found that 60 percent of HIV infection cases in Africa did not respond to the antiretroviral drug between 1996 and 2015. The new study involved more than 1,900 HIV patients, whose doctors had to find alternatives to Tenofovir to fight off the disease.
Dr Ravi Gupta, lead author of the study and researcher with the University College London, deemed the findings ‘extremely concerning.’ Researchers also studied HIV strains’ resistance to Tenofovir in Europeans, as well.
While the strains developed resistance in 60 percent of African cases, in Europe figures were less concerning. Just 20 percent of HIV patients developed a form of resistance to the antiretroviral drug.
A research paper detailing the findings was published this week in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Fortunately, study authors believe that they know the cause of drug resistance. They suspect that not taking Tenofovir in the right doses and at the right times could push the strains of HIV to mutate.
Dr Gupta explained that too high or too low doses along with failure in keeping the pace in administering the drug could create the right environment for the virus to overcome medication and gain resistance.
The researcher noted that since doctors heavily rely on Tenofovir to treat their patients such high rates of resistance are a matter of concern for both clinicians and patients worldwide.
What’s more, the study added another piece of bad news. Reportedly, the drug-resistant strains can be passed from one patient to another. Still, researchers couldn’t tell how exactly that happens. They only said that more research needs to be conducted to understand how the virus gains resistance and how it spreads.
The World Health Organization found that HIV infection is associated with the highest mortality rate. Up to 1.7 million people lose the battle against HIV every year globally. In 2013, 1.1 million HIV deaths were recorded in Africa.
The research team believes that a global effort could stymie HIV incidence worldwide. Plus, more funding invested into the research could benefit not only Africa, but the whole world by preventing the virus from further gaining resistance.
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