Last month the New York City health department issued a press release entitled “New York City Resident Diagnosed with Rare Strain of Multi-Drug Resistant HIV that Rapidly Progresses to AIDS.”Major media picked up on the announcement as a watershed event that could mark a turn for the worse in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
I asked Veronica Miller, PhD, Director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research for her view. Here’s what she had to say:
The case of the “new strain” of HIV has generated much interest and concern. Numerous previous studies have documented the transmission of resistant HIV, including resistance to one, two or three drug classes. While the findings reported recently are not “new”, the publicity has highlighted the need to pay attention to the spread of drug resistant HIV. It also highlights the need for a surveillance program to monitor drug resistance. We lack a true picture of resistant HIV in North America. Most of the information we have comes from small, specialized studies of non-representative populations. Surveillance of HIV drug resistance will provide crucial local, state, provincial and national data concerning the prevalence of drug resistance over time. It will enable public health officials, policymakers, and clinicians to recommend the appropriate use of drug resistance testing and the most efficient initial treatment combinations.