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Drug-resistant forms of HIV can be spread between individuals who have not received anti-retroviral treatment, according to professor Deenan Pillay from University College, London and the Health Protection Agency, speaking at the Society for General Microbiology meeting at Harrogate today.
Anti-retroviral therapy is a major advance in the treatment of HIV and there are currently more than 25 drugs available. It is known that the virus can mutate, reducing its susceptibility to treatment, and that these resistant viruses can be transmitted between individuals. Pillay found that drug-resistant viruses could also circulate between individuals who have not received antiretroviral drug treatments.
"Our findings show that assuming that drug-resistant HIV was only passed on from individuals receiving drug treatment may mean the number and size of the reservoirs of drug-resistant virus in the United Kingdom has been underestimated," said Pillay. "Our results indicate that although the incidence of drug resistance has been declining, this might not continue -- which could have implications for planning and management of treatment programs."