According to a new report, HIV drug resistance is on the rise, and the number of people with the disease being treated with antiretrovirals has risen to 27.5 million, an annual increase of 2 million.
Four out of five countries with high rates of HIV had success in suppressing the disease with antiretroviral treatments, according to the World Health Organization's HIV drug-resistance report.
The WHO said that there was an increase in countries reaching a 10% threshold of resistance to a class of drugs, underlined the need for a move to an alternative treatment, which it has recommended since 2019. In 21 of 30 countries surveyed, resistance exceeding the 10% threshold was reported.
According to surveys in 10 sub-Saharan African countries, switching from non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors was important for children, with nearly half of infants newly diagnosed with drug-resistant HIV.
The WHO said robust surveillance of drug resistance was key for governments with high numbers of HIV patients to make sure that the suppression of the virus did not wane. It said that 64% of countries have plans to tackle drug resistance.
Meg Doherty, the director of WHO's global HIV, hepatitis and STI programmes, said the report held countries accountable for monitoring drug resistance and ensuring effective treatment for patients.
In the future, we will expand our surveillance to new ARVs, antiretrovirals and those that are delivered as long-acting agents for prevention and treatment, so that we can keep our ARVs for the lifetime of people living with HIV, said Doherty.
The WHO said that countries with high levels of viral suppression increased from 33% in 2017 to 80% by the end of 2020, which prevented transmission and deaths from HIV and slowed the emergence of drug resistance.
WHO s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged countries to use antimicrobial therapy responsibly to ensure effectiveness.
Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics, are the backbone of modern medicine. Tedros said that the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials is harming the effectiveness of these essential medicines. We can all play a role in preserving antimicrobials and preventing drug resistance.