Drug-Resistant HIV Strains Found in One Out of Every 10 Newly Infected European Patients
Nearly one out of every 10 Europeans newly infected with HIV has a drug-resistant strain of the virus, according to a study released today at the International AIDS Society's 2nd Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment in Paris, Reuters reports. David van de Vijver of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands and colleagues examined 1,633 HIV-positive patients from 17 European countries and found that nearly 10% of the newly infected patients were resistant to at least one antiretroviral drug and 1.7% were resistant to two or more of the drugs (Hirschler, Reuters, 7/16). The researchers found that 6.9% of the patients had HIV strains that were resistant to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, 2.6% were resistant to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and 2.2% were resistant to protease inhibitors (McNeil, New York Times, 7/16). While smaller populations have been examined in San Francisco and other cities in the United States and Switzerland, the new study is the largest of its kind and the first to offer a "reliable measure" of drug resistance across a broader population, Charles Boucher, lead author of the study, said, according to the St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg Times, 7/16). The spread of drug resistance in Europe suggests that HIV-positive people who are taking antiretroviral drugs are returning to high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex or needle sharing, according to van de Vijver (Reuters, 7/16). The results of the study also suggest the need for increased adherence to HIV treatment regimens and for health workers to consider instituting an "order of battle" approach to prescribing antiretroviral drugs, restricting certain drugs for use later in the treatment process, according to the Times. Experts emphasized that the possibility of drug-resistant HIV strains developing should not be a reason to deny antiretroviral treatment to developing nations but that better guidelines on the medicines' use should be developed before drug access programs are instituted (New York Times, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.