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Almost half of infants diagnosed with HIV+found resistant to antiretroviral drugs: WHO

Almost half of infants diagnosed with HIV+found resistant to antiretroviral drugs: WHO

The number of HIV+ people being treated across the world has risen to 27.5 million, but HIV drug resistance is on the rise too. A report by WHO says that nearly half the infants diagnosed with the virus are drug-resistant. The trend was spotted in 10 sub-Saharan African nations.

A recent study found that there is an increase in countries reaching a 10% threshold of resistance to a class of drugs. 21 of 30 countries surveyed reported drug resistance exceeding the threshold of 10%. Four out of five countries with high rates had seen success in suppressing the virus with antiretroviral treatments, reported The Guardian.

Meg Doherty, director of WHO's global HIV, hepatitis and STI programmes, said that drug resistance should be closely monitored to ensure that suppression did not wane. 64% of the identified nations have made plans to follow Doherty's advice.

He added that WHO will expand surveillance to new ARVs [antiretrovirals] and those that are delivered as long-acting agents for prevention and treatment in the future.

On the upside, the rate of countries achieving high levels of viral suppression has increased from 33% to 80% in three years. This has prevented transmission and deaths from HIV. It has also slowed the emergence of drug resistance, said WHO.

WHO's director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asked all countries to use antimicrobial therapy responsibly to ensure that HIV is suppressed. He said that antimicrobials are the backbone of modern medicines but overuse and misuse of them can undermine their effectiveness. He added that everyone can play a part in preserving antimicrobials and preserving drug resistance.

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