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Most resistance to Anti-HIV drugs created by good pill-taking patients

Resistance mutations to anti-HIV medications are more likely to occur in patients who take most of their medications rather than in those who don't, according to AIDS specialists at the University of California, San Francisco.

"These findings will make us rethink the argument that life-saving antiretroviral drugs should be denied to some populations because poor pill-taking behavior might accelerate the creation of resistant mutations of the HIV virus," said the study's lead author, David R. Bangsberg, MD, MPH., director of the UCSF Epidemiology and Prevention Interventions (EPI) Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (SFGHMC).

In a study of patients on antiretroviral drugs, resistance mutations were twice as likely to occur in patients who took 80 percent or more of their antiretroviral medications as they were in patients who took 40 percent or less, according to the researchers.

"Ironically it is the 'good adherers' who developed more resistance, rather than the 'problem patients'," said study co-investigator Andrew Moss, PhD, professor of epidemiology and medicine.

"You need pressure from antiviral medications for resistance to develop. What is surprising is that what we typically take to be excellent pill-taking--80 percent of pills or better--leads to more resistance than occasional or inconsistent pill-taking. A caveat--this does not mean patients should take less of their drugs to avoid creating resistance. Good adherence to the antiviral regimens still is the best bet to prevent becoming ill or dying with HIV/AIDS. Many patients with excellent, even perfect, pill-taking are living longer with resistant virus, than those who do not take enough medication to select for resistant virus," said Bangsberg.

The study, appearing in the September 5, 2003, issue of AIDS, looked at 148 participants from the Research on Access to Care in the Homeless (REACH) cohort, a systematic sample of HIV-positive adults recr
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Contact: Jeff Sheehy
jsheehy@psg.ucsf.edu
415-597-8165
University of California - San Francisco
20-Aug-2003


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