AIGHD and JLI publish Lancet HIV review paper on emerging HIV drug resistance

A comprehensive review on HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) in low and middle-income countries was recently published in The Lancet HIV.

Antimicrobial drug resistance is an increasing problem with respect to treatment of common infectious diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, bacterial infections and HIV.

The most recent WHO progress report on HIVDR highlights alarming statistics: in several countries around the world, more than 1 in 10 patients starting first-line HIV treatment already has HIV that is resistant to these drugs. Women are twice as likely to have drug-resistant HIV than men, and 30% of all patients restarting HIV treatment carry drug-resistant HIV. Emerging HIVDR will have an important impact on the survival of people living with HIV and will greatly augment the costs of HIV treatment programs.

The paper highlights the potential impact of HIVDR in light of novel anti-retroviral (ART) strategies and identifies knowledge and implementation gaps. These include a lack of support to people living with HIV to take their treatment consistently, unreliable drug supply chains and sub-optimal suppression rates of the HIV virus.

“The emergence of HIVDR in HIV treatment programs across developing nations poses an increasing threat to the global target of eliminating HIV” said Raph Hamers, who led the review and is an affiliate senior researcher with AIGHD.

To help curb HIVDR, the researchers recommend developing enhanced strategies to improve the quality of ART care and treatment and ensure the number of new HIV infections further declines.

Antimicrobial resistance and infectious disease elimination are two of AIGHD’s research priorities. The development of this Lancet review was facilitated by a strategy and advocacy meeting focused on HIVDR in March this year, led by Prof. Tobias Rinke de Wit, Principal Investigator at AIGHD and director Research at the Joep Lange Institute (JLI).

This meeting was a spin-off of the so-called ‘Noordwijk meetings’ organized and sponsored by JLI. The workshop was hosted by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and PITCH, a strategic alliance between Aidsfonds, International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Ministry.

“This workshop was a unique event because, for the first time, it brought together prominent scientists in the field of HIVDR and civil society organizations, advocates and policy makers to ‘find common ground’”, said Tobias Rinke de Wit, who is also a co-author on the review paper.

Representatives from both the scientific and non-scientific communities joined forces to facilitate a unique, expert discussion with the end goal of developing actionable priorities for HIVDR advocacy. The key recommendation was to increase involvement of communities in securing quality of HIV prevention and treatment and to create ways to measure and reward such activities.

Read the full article here.