A study of HIV-positive patients in China has found that more than 17% developed resistance to at least one antiretroviral drug within four years of them being made widely available.
Few people in the country had access to HIV drugs before the Chinese government began a programme to distribute them for free in 2003. The new research shows that those who developed drug resistance by 2006 and 2007 were on low or unstable incomes.
HIV usually only mutates into a drug-resistant form if people have taken antiretroviral drugs for a long time, but government researchers pointed out that if people only take medication sporadically, it can precipitate drug resistance.
“When we first started, we didn’t have much experience, and patients tended to be suspicious if these medications could work. So their adherence was not good and that resulted in higher rates of drug resistance,” said Liao Lingjie of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. “People who began treatment later are responding better.”
Patients who have become resistant to the drugs will be monitored further, with some participating in clinical trials.
Copyright PA Business 2008