Drug-Resistant HIV Strains Becoming More Prevalent in United Kingdom
Health officials in the United Kingdom estimate that between 25% and 27% of HIV-positive individuals in the region are resistant to "one or more" antitretroviral medicines, Reuters reports. Scientists from the U.K. Collaborative Group on Monitoring the Transmission of HIV Drug Resistance published the findings in the current issue of the British Medical Journal (Reaney, Reuters, 5/3). Statistics show that in Britain, the risk of becoming infected with a drug-resistant strain increased each year throughout the 1990s (BBC News, 5/3). The researchers said that the trend might be attributed to the increasing use of anti-AIDS drugs and unprotected sex "among the highest risk groups" (Reuters, 5/3). Officials also cited the failure to adhere to drug treatments as another possible factor for the increase in drug-resistant strains.
Renewed Prevention Efforts
British health officials, as well as the study authors, say that prevention efforts are "key" to controlling the spread of the virus and the development of drug-resistant HIV. The study authors write, "New approaches to encourage safer sexual behavior in all sectors of the population are urgently needed" (Reuters, 5/3). Derek Bodell, CEO of the National AIDS Trust, added, "We must urgently review the thinking behind existing prevention campaigns targeted to those most at risk to take account of today's generation coming of age in an era of combination therapy, and we ask the government to make this a top priority in its long-awaited HIV and Sexual Health Strategy" (BBC News, 5/3). Susan Little, a professor at the University of California-San Diego, added that the study "highlights the urgency of the problem." She said, "Drug-resistance testing in all recently infected individuals is needed to monitor changes in the prevalence of transmitted drug resistance among different risk groups and to optimize initial treatment choices" (Reuters, 5/3).