In a recent study carried out the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been found that HIV is increasingly becoming drug resistant. WHO has alerted all the countries about this new growing threat which could undermine global progress in treating and preventing HIV infection, if early and effective action is not taken.
Increasing HIV drug resistance trends could lead to more infections and deaths. It is estimated that an additional 1, 35,000 deaths and 1, 05,000 new infections could follow in the next five years if no action is taken.
Of the 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide, 19.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2016. According to WHO, the majority of these people were responding well to the treatment but a growing number are experiencing the consequences of drug resistance. In India, the total number of people living with HIV was estimated at 21.17 lakhs in 2015 as compared to 22.26 lakhs in 2007.
HIV drug resistance develops when people do not adhere to a prescribed treatment plan, often because they do not have consistent access to quality HIV treatment and care. Individuals with HIV drug resistance will start to fail therapy and may also transmit drug-resistant viruses to others. The level of HIV in their blood will increase unless they change to a different treatment regimen, which could be more expensive and harder to obtain in many countries
Additional Project Director of Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society (MDACS), Dr Shashikala Acaharya put things in perspectives in terms of India. “According to this report the drug resistant is caused by the disruption in treatment and it is likely to be caused by the shortage of drugs. In India we have different picture. There is availability of drugs but due to some factors patients discontinue or disrupt the treatment. Such break causes more mutation of the virus. So we need to counsel patients to continue the medication.”
WHO has issued new guidelines to help countries address HIV drug resistance. These recommend that countries monitor the quality of their treatment programs and take action as soon as treatment failure is detected.