HIV is growing increasingly resistant to a key antiretroviral drug, sparking fears of a super-virus around the globe.
HIV researchers have made a startling revelation. According to a report from UPI, the virus is growing increasingly resistant to tenofovir, an important antiretroviral drug. Researchers fear that improper and inconsistent use of the drug has allowed the virus to develop immunities and resist its effects entirely.
Tenofovir is a common antiretroviral that is used to treat HIV and hepatitis B. Scientists have discovered strains of the virus in Africa that are significantly more resistant to the drug than HIV strains found in Europe, sparking fears that the resistant strain could begin to spread around the globe.
According to Dr. Ravi Gupta, a scientist from University College London, “If the right levels of the drug are not taken, as in they are too low or not regularly maintained, the virus can overcome the drug and become resistant. Tenofovir is a critical part of our armamentarium against HIV, so it is extremely concerning to see such a high level of resistance to this drug.”
The recent review of tenofovir’s failure to treat certain HIV strains was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, and tracked over 2,000 HIV patients in Africa and Europe since 2012. Researchers discovered that 60 percent of patients in Africa had developed a resistance to tenofovir, while only 20 percent of patients in Europe were resistant.
Dr. Gupta urged physicians in African nations to pay close attention to the administration of HIV medications, in addition to making sure that people are aware of the consequences of failing to use medications properly. Facilities and care programs are currently lacking, and further investment will be needed to adequately address the issue in Africa.
While researchers are not quite sure how resistance to tenofovir developed, and additional studies will need to be carried out to determine the true mechanisms behind the virus’s ability to resist drugs.
The study can be found here.