WHO on HIV drug resistant globally


Sharon Kavhu

Paris – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged all countries across the globe to have a close monitoring on the quality of their treatment programmes for HIV and take action as soon as treatment failure is detected.

This follows a presentation of the WHO’s HIV Drug Resistance report, 2017 today during the ongoing International Aids Conference (IAS) HIV Science in Paris, France.

Speaking during a press briefing on ‘Global action plan on HIV drug resistance’ , WHO’s director of HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme, Dr Gottfried Hiernschall said there is a need to discourse the rising levels of resistance to HIV drugs for the globe to end Aids by 2030.

“We need to ensure that people who start treatment can stay on effective treatment, to prevent the emergence of HIV drug resistance,” said Dr Hiernschall.

“When levels of HIV drug resistance become high, we recommend that countries shift to an alternative first line therapy for those who are starting treatment.”

According to the WHO HIV Resistance report-2017, over 10 percent of people starting ART have a strain of HIV that is resistant to some of the most widely used HIV medicines.

The organisation suggests that HIV drug resistance develops when people do not adhere to a prescribed treatment plan, often because they do not have consistent access to quality HIV treatment and care.

“Individuals with GHIV drug resistance will start to fail therapy and may also transmit drug resistant viruses to theirs.  The level of HIV in their blood will increase, unless they change to a different treatment regimen, which could be more expensive and in many countries, still harder to obtain,” highlighted WHO’s statement on

Of the 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide, 19.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2016.  The majority of these people are doing well, with treatment proving highly effective in suppressing the HIV virus.  But a growing number is experiencing the consequences of drug resistance.

Increasing HIV drug resistance trends could lead to more infections and deaths. Mathematical modelling shows an additional 135 000 deaths and 105 000 new infections could follow in the next five years if no action is taken, and HIV treatment costs could increase by an additional US$ 650 million during this time.



July 2017
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