Q and A

Question

How can I be resistant to an old drug if I only just tested HIV?

Hi there.

After being recently diagnosed my doctor has advised me that my blood results show I am resistant to an older type of HIV drug.

How can this be possible when I have just been diagnosed and have never taken ART before? And will this limit my choice of ART

Answer

Hi there

Thanks – and great Q.

It is very common for people who are newly diagnosed to also have some level of drug resistance.

Although this varies by country, perhaps 1 in 10 people in the UK already have a drug resistance mutation to at least one HIV drug.

Sometimes this resistance is enough to stop that drug from working. This means your treatment might only contain less active drugs than are needed. This is why the UK recommends that people should be tested for drug resistance.

This just means that either the person you caught HIV from might have developed this drug resistance themselves. More likely though, they might not yest have been diagnosed, and they were infected with the early drug resistance many years ago.

Either way, it is good that your clinic tested for this.

In practice, the resistance is unlikely to affect your treatment choices. Most newer meds still work really well against resistance to early HIV meds.

Even though most people are not interested in this level of detail, i-Base have an online guide that covers everything about drug resistance:
https://i-base.info/ttfa/hiv-and-drug-resistance

I spent a long time writing this as a training for advocates, though I am not sure it is often read :)

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