Complete Adherence to Antiretroviral Drug Regimens Best Way to Avoid Development of Drug-Resistant HIV, Study Says
January 14, 2005
Complete adherence to antiretroviral drug treatment is the best way to prevent HIV from mutating and developing drug resistance, according to a study to be published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases that was presented on Thursday at an American Medical Association briefing, Reuters reports (Reuters, 1/13). Richard Harrigan and colleagues at the Vancouver, Canada-based British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS studied 1,191 HIV-positive individuals who began antiretroviral treatment between 1996 and 1999 and continued taking medication for up to three years, according to the Miami Herald (Tasker/Goldstein, Miami Herald, 1/14). The researchers found that 298 of the individuals developed drug-resistant HIV over the first 2.5 years of therapy, according to Reuters Health. There was "little difference" in time to resistance between individuals who took a protease inhibitor-based regimen and people who took a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase-based regimen, according to Reuters Health. The researchers determined that adherence to therapy had the "greatest impact" on the development of drug resistance, Reuters Health reports (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 1/13). Individuals who took their medication about 80% of the time were four times as likely to develop drug resistance as people who took all of their pills, according to the study, the Herald reports (Miami Herald, 1/14). Patients who missed less than 5% of their medications did not develop resistance during the study period (AMA release, 1/13). "The results prove HIV drug regimens are nothing like a game of horseshoes -- close is not good enough," Harrigan said, adding, "It's very risky to pick up your drugs and take them inconsistently" (Lee, Vancouver Sun, 1/13). He added, "The good news is that although they require a very high level of adherence, these therapies do work" (AMA release, 1/13).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.