HIV-untreated people transmit resistant viruses

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AIDS: HIV-infected people who have not yet been treated transmit resistant viruses

Viruses that are already resistant to at least one active ingredient class of AIDS therapy were discovered in almost one in ten of the newly infected patients with HIV. This was determined by a Swiss HIV cohort study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. According to this, especially people who have not yet received treatment transmit resistant HI viruses, in which therapy with HIV and AIDS medication is ineffective.

Prevention and early detection should prevent the spread, as researchers from the University Hospital Zurich report in the journal "Clinical Infectious Diseases". Resistance to the HIV virus has been observed with at least one of the three classes of active substances in AIDS therapies. These resistant viruses are mainly passed on by people who are not yet in therapy. These results were provided by a molecular-epidemiological analysis in which 1674 male HIV-infected people who had had sexual contact with other men took part. The resistant viruses were detected in 140 patents.

Reconstruction of the transmission routes The research team was able to show the transmission routes of these viruses based on the estimated period of infection and the genetic relationship of the viruses in the blood. It has been shown that the majority of the transmissions begin with HIV-infected people who were not yet under treatment at the time the resistant viruses were spread.

"We were surprised that the resistant viruses were brought into circulation mainly by untreated people," says Günthard, the study leader. "So far, we had assumed that the resistant viruses came from patients who failed therapy if resistance developed during treatment."

Prevention and early diagnosis crucial for success In order to prevent the spread of these resistances, the treatment of untreated people is not the only focus, but rather the prevention and early detection of new infections. "In contrast to other tests such as hepatitis, the HIV test requires the patient's consent," explains Günthard. One reason why HIV infections are detected much later than possible is because of the reluctance of doctors to talk about their patients' sexuality. Advances in medicine have done a lot to combat the deadly effects of this infection, but there is still a lot to be done, the researchers said. The Swiss HIV cohort study, started in 1988, aims to research HIV and AIDS in order to ensure optimal care for patients. A total of over 8,000 people took part in the study, almost a third of whom are women. (fr)

Image: Cornelia Menichelli /

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