Study: Fewer HIV patients than expected develop drug resistance
March 08 2005 1:00 AM ET
A new study in the March 4 edition of the British Medical Journal shows that highly active antiretroviral drug therapy is very effective in controlling HIV for most HIV-positive people and that fewer people taking HAART develop drug resistance than expected. Researchers in London examined patient records of nearly 16,600 HIV patients treated with HAART between 1996 and 2002. The percentage with high viral load measurements dropped from 89% in 1996 to 23.5% in 2002, and the percentage of patients with low CD4-cell counts dropped from 57% in 1996 to 15% in 2002. The study also found that about 15% of treated patients developed resistance to one or more of their anti-HIV drugs, a percentage far lower than the researchers expected. But the U.K. scientists still warn that the onset of drug resistance limits the drugs that are effective in controlling HIV in the body and that multidrug resistance can leave HIV patients with few treatment options. "There need to be new drugs that are easier to take and less cross-resistant to other drugs" for these HIV patients, said lead researcher Caroline Sabin of the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London.