Zim Reduces HIV Drug Resistance

Zimbabwe has reduced the prevalence of drug resistant HIV, which was higher than World Health Organisation acceptable levels.

In 2018, the WHO found levels of pre-treatment HIV drug resistance (HIV DR) above 10 percent among those initiating first-line of anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

By December 2020, there were over one million people on ART from 11 000 in 2004 and currently 91 percent of facilities offer ART services, while overall ART coverage stands at 93 percent.

Defaulting on treatment has been identified as the leading cause of HIV DR.

HIV DR refers to the ability HIV viruses to continue multiplying despite the presence of drugs that usually kill them.

It is caused by changes in the virus’ genetic structure and these are common in HIV because HIV viruses replicate at an extremely rapid rate.

If someone has developed resistance to one or more of these HIV drugs and has unprotected sex or shares needles with someone who is not infected with the virus, it is possible that they can infect their partner with a drug-resistant variant strain of HIV containing mutations that can cause resistance.

A report on HIV DR from the National Aids Council shows that the country had phased out Niverapine for HIV treatment based on the HIV DR survey findings.

“Periodic HIV DR surveys are done to monitor HIV DR in Zimbabwe and a recent survey showed that Zimbabwe has reached moderate levels of HIV DR in ART-naïve patients of 9,4 percent as specified by the WHO classification. —Chronicle

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