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Alarming Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise: WHO Highlights the Search for Alternatives to Minimize Transmission

HIV drug resistance
Alarming Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise: WHO Highlights the Search for Alternatives to Minimize Transmission (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

On November 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest HIV Drug Resistance Report that describes an in-depth picture of the extent to which drug resistance is increasing. They also included the steps countries are taking to receive effective medicine to treat HIV and prevent its transmission.


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World Health Organization releases HIV Drug resistance report 2021 (PHOTO: European AIDS Treatment Group)

HIV Drug Resistance Rising Despite Successful Antiretroviral Drugs

According to WHO, the report reveals that 64% of focus countries or those with high cases of HIV infection has national action plans in place in 2020 to respond, monitor, and prevent HIV drug resistance. The UN health agency encourages nations to monitor resistance and recommends for people to take antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).

Despite the success in suppressing HIV using ARVs, WHO found that countries have reached a 10% threshold of resistance to the drugs. The report also said that people who have had exposure to ARVs are three times more likely to demonstrate resistance to the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) drug class.

WHO emphasized that the findings highlight the need to look for alternatives and transition to dolutegravir-containing drugs, especially in focus countries that still use NNRTI-based ARV therapy.

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High HIV Drug Resistance Recorded in Infants

WHO HIV Drug Resistance 2021 showed that surveys in 10 sub-Saharan African nations showed that it is important for children to switch from NNRTI class drugs to dolutegravir-containing drugs. This supports the statistics that showed almost half of infants in these countries were diagnosed with the drug-resistant type of the infection, WION reported.

WHO’s global HIV, hepatitis, and STI programs director Meg Doherty said that the report holds countries accountable for monitoring HIV drug resistance and ensuring that patients receive adequate and effective treatments. 

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that nations should use antimicrobial therapies, such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment.

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