Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise, WHO Warns

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a retrovirus that infects the immune system’s cells and destroys or impairs their function. Although rates of HIV decreased worldwide, it is still prevalent. In fact, about 36.7 million people around the globe are living with HIV, but 17 million of them are receiving medicines called antiretroviral therapy (ART) to help manage the condition. Despite the wide prevalence, progress in diagnosing and treating is evident, which is why the latest news came as a shock to patients and healthcare professionals worldwide. Drug-resistant HIV is on the rise! To find out more, keep reading!

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Drug-resistant HIV

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report which warns about drug-resistant HIV, which only hinders the progress made so far regarding the treatment of this severe condition. 

The WHO HIV Drug Resistance Report 2017 surveyed 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Of these, in 6 countries, the drug-resistant virus was reported: Argentina, Namibia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. The fastest increase in drug-resistant HIV is recorded in southern and eastern Africa. 

Shockingly, 10% of people starting the ART had a strain of HIV that was resistant to some of the most commonly used medications. Although you probably don’t find a 10% figure as such a threat, it is a big deal if we take into consideration millions of HIV patients worldwide. What’s more, once the threshold of 10% is reached, WHO immediately warns those countries to take necessary measures and urgently review their HIV treating programs. 

Drug resistance is a major problem worldwide

According to the WHO, antimicrobial drug resistance is nothing new. In fact, it is one of the growing challenges that healthcare professionals around the world face today. Viruses that are resistant to medications endanger global health and sustainable development. 

It is of huge importance to be proactive about this problem, particularly when it comes to drug-resistant HIV. The increasing rate of viruses that are resistant to medications prevents WHO and countries individually to end AIDS by 2030. 

Drug resistance to HIV occurs when patients do not follow the recommended treatment properly. Failing to adhere to the treatment plan isn’t about being irresponsible. In a vast majority of cases, patients do not have consistent access to necessary HIV treatment and care. 

Patients who develop drug-resistant HIV start to fail therapy, but they are also able to transmit this dangerous virus strain onto other people. As a result, HIV levels in their blood increase unless they make urgent changes in the treatment plan. The problem is that treatment becomes more expensive and difficult to obtain in countries with the highest HIV rates. 

Higher drug-resistance, more dangerous effects

HIV is dangerous as it is primarily because it affects our body’s ability to develop healthy immunity. A patient’s body is attacking itself. That’s what makes HIV is so severe. Scientists, doctors, and governments have worked hard to reduce HIV rates and develop medicines to help manage the condition. However, drug-resistance could induce more dangerous effects. 

Increasing resistance could lead to more infections and deaths. This would undermine the progress that has been made recently. Mathematical modeling reveals that 135,000 deaths and 105,000 new infections could occur in the next five years if no action is taken regarding drug-resistant HIV.

HIV is a potentially life-threatening condition that damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight diseases, infections, viruses, and other threats. The infection can be transmitted from one person to another, and millions of people are infected. Science and medicine made significant advances in treating and preventing HIV, but WHO warns about increasing rates of drug-Resistant HIV. It usually occurs when patients don’t adhere to the recommended treatment. This happens due to limited resources and inconsistent access to the treatment plan.

References 

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/hiv-drug-resistance/en/

http://time.com/4865443/drug-resistant-hiv-world-health-organization/

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