HIV-Positive Patients in Asia at High Risk of Developing Drug Resistance Due to Inconsistent Treatment, Lack of Monitoring
HIV-positive people in China and other parts of Asia are at a high risk of developing resistance to antiretroviral drugs because of the range of available drugs, inconsistent treatment and a lack of monitoring and counseling, experts said at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Agence France-Presse reports. For example, 50% of 500 rural Chinese HIV-positive people who took nevirapine for up to 11 months have become resistant to the drug, which is a standard component of antiretroviral triple therapy, according to Shao Yiming, director of the China Centers of Disease Control's Department of Virology and Immunology. Shao said that China provided the drugs free of charge, but medical personnel failed to inform patients that they had to take the drugs consistently. Many patients stopped taking the drugs for periods of time or stopped taking them altogether because of side effects. "The free drugs program was meant to ... save lives, but we should have considered whether it was sustainable," Shao said. Kevin Frost, director of TREAT Asia, said, "There's a lot of concern that we're going to begin seeing resistance to nevirapine on a more widespread basis here, and I think that's of significant concern when it's such a critical component of every first-line treatment regimen in the region" (Agence France-Presse, 7/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.