NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Increasing Drug Resistance Found In New HIV Cases

October 1, 1999

An increasing number of people newly infected with HIV have drug resistant strains of the virus that could compromise successful treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the current treatment of choice, according to two new studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

  • A study of 77 men and three women from New York and Los Angeles whose HIV infection had been diagnosed within the previous five months found that 16 percent had genetic profiles that confer resistance to at least one antiviral drug, and 4 percent had viruses resistant to more than one drug.
  • Of the 67 strains tested, 27 percent showed a threefold or greater decrease in susceptibility to any retroviral agent, and one mutation was found to render the virus more than 1000 times less sensitive than normal to an entire class of HAART drugs.
  • Another study examined the viruses in 129 men and 10 women from five urban areas infected between 1989 and 1998, and found that 26 percent of the patients had strains of HIV with some reduced susceptibility to the antiviral drugs used to treat HIV, and in 2 percent susceptibility was reduced more than 10-fold.

Researchers say it is not yet clear whether testing all patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection for drug resistance is necessary.

Source: Scott Gottlieb, "A sixth of new cases of HIV are drug resistant strains," British Medical Journal, October 2, 1999.


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