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IRIN/PlusNews Reports on Rise of Drug-Resistant Strains of HIV in Africa

February 9, 2011

IRIN/PlusNews reports on a recent study which found the transmission of drug-resistant strains of HIV is on the rise in Africa. "The study, led by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) in five African countries, found that the prevalence of transmitted drug resistance in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia was considerably higher than previously reported," according to the news service. "Of 408 people studied in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, 19 had transmitted resistance mutations. Resistance prevalence rose considerably during the study in Zambia and remained high throughout the study in Entebbe (Uganda)" (2/8).

"These data are particularly relevant now, in light of recent WHO recommendations for earlier ARV treatment initiation in developing countries, as more national ARV therapy programs in sub-Saharan Africa are developed, and as already established programs continue to expand," the study authors write. "Real time detection and reporting of surveillance drug resistance mutations should guide clinician and public health policy maker alike, and to this end, the WHO has recommended that sentinel surveys be conducted as part of routine public health surveillance" (Price et al., 1/12).

"The message to take away from this study is the urgent need for regular drug resistance surveillance, which we currently do not have," explained Omu Anzala, head of the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative, according to IRIN/PlusNews . "If we can see transmitted resistance in such a small study then there could be much more going around," Anzala added. The article describes the results of previous trials documenting an uptick in cases if drug-resistant HIV and the WHO's recommendations for tracking and preventing drug resistance (2/8).

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