HIV drug resistance on the rise in Japan

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 11 2003 11:00 PM ET

Doctors in Japan report that nearly one fifth of all patients newly diagnosed with HIV infection at Nagoya National Hospital in Nagoya were infected with a strain of the virus already resistant to at least one anti-HIV medication, the Tokyo Daily Yomirui reports. "It's only a matter of time before drug-resistant HIV spreads throughout the country," said Tsuguhiro Kaneda, chief of the center for immunity deficiency at the hospital. About 17% of the new HIV cases diagnosed at the hospital were drug-resistant, giving those patients fewer treatment options before they even begin taking anti-HIV drugs, Kaneda said.

Doctors across the country have called for greater use of HIV genotypic and phenotypic tests to detect drug resistance in HIV-positive patients before they start therapy, in order to best identify the most effective combination of medications to treat their HIV infections. There are about 8,000 HIV-positive people in Japan, with 2,600 having progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. United Nations officials say the number of Japanese citizens infected with the virus could climb to 50,000 by 2010.