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CDC Researchers Identify New Zidovudine-Resistant HIV Subtype in Treatment-Naive Patients
CDC researchers have identified a new strain of HIV that is
zidovudine-resistant and may "compromise the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy," according to a study published in the Nov. 6 issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. J. Gerardo Garcia-Lerma and colleagues surveyed 603 treatment-naive, recently diagnosed HIV-1-positive individuals and found that 20 patients (3.3%) had "a distinct group of viruses" that have mutations in a particular region of the reverse transcriptase gene, giving the subtype virus a "higher potential" to become drug resistant. These mutations differ from other mutations in the same gene known to make HIV resistant to zidovudine, researchers noted (Garcia-Lerma et al., Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 11/6). As these mutations indicate a "significant potential" for zidovudine resistance, and possible stavudine resistance, researchers concluded that "close monitoring of treatment responses in patients infected with these viruses is prudent" (Reuters Health, 11/5). Although there are more than a dozen antiretroviral drugs, zidovudine resistance is damaging to the medical "armory" against the infection because the medication is used in many drug cocktails. Lisa Power, from the British AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said, "Combination drug therapies, which have been instrumental in enabling people with HIV to lead full lives, are powerless against emerging untreatable strains of the virus. ... If we get multidrug resistance, that could put us back to where we started when HIV first emerged" (BBC News, 11/6).
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