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Possible to be resistant to all meds? If so, how likely/rare?
Feb 13, 2011

(I may asked this question once already but I put the wrong email the first time, so I'm asking again with the right email.)

Hi. I was recently diagnosed positive. I haven't got the blood results yet (getting them this week), but my body feel good/normal, eat well most of the time, I exercise 3 times a week, don't feel sick, but did have a bit of symptoms a few weeks ago when I was getting tested (have a few bumps under my under, but they have went away). I'm only 23 and I believe I have received the hiv into my system within the last year or so at the latest.

Now I dont know if I will have to go on meds or not, (the result/hiv specialist will determine that), but I would like to know is it possible for someone to be resistant to all meds? If so, how likely or rare is that to happen to someone? I do know if the person I was with was resistant to something, that resistance may pass off into me, but I'm just not sure if someone can be resistant to ALL available anti-retrovirals that are out right now? Please help. I'm just thinking of that worst situation possible, which I am scared of.

And if someone is resistant to all meds out there, what is their options?

Response from Dr. Young

Hi and thanks for your post.

Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis; it sounds like you're doing your best to learn about your health and treatment options.

Drug resistance can be an issue for patients-- a story that can potentially limit the use of certain HIV medications. Overall, about 10% of newly diagnosed persons have some evidence of drug resistance (most commonly in the US to the NNRTI class of medications). Fortunately, transmitted multi-drug resistance is much less common- in recent surveys in the US and Europe, about 1-2% of individuals. Such cases are usually to 2 and sometimes 3 classes of meds. Fortunately, we have an expanded set of medication classes and med options, so that it would be exceedingly unusual to be resistant to all meds (I'm not sure that such a case has ever been reported).

BTW, our group did identify and presented the first known case of transmitted integrase inhibitor resistance. The peer-reviewed publication describing this case should come out in print in the next few months in the journal Antiviral Therapy. Even in this case of transmitted 4 drug-class resistance, the patient went on to have successful (and well tolerated) treatment.

So, I hope this is helpful. Worry not; but feel free to write back here at's Forums anytime.


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