As the Ugandan Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) programme expands, new challenges have begun to emerge. Latest statistics show that Uganda unlike many other countries battling the HIV scourge is faced with multiple reports of HIV drug resistance.
According to Dr Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director Uganda Virus Research Institute; HIV drug resistance is a situation whereby a client on Anti-Retroviral Therapy does not respond to the prescribed drugs and therefore experiences health deterioration despite the fact that he takes the drugs efficiently and effectively.
Dr Kaleebu notes, “In those starting treatment Uganda has shown a percentage of between 10 – 15%, this number is higher in children some presented up to 40% children are not responding to treatment.”
Dr Kaleebu reports with the increasing cases of HIV drug resistance, more Ugandans are bound to be stuck with no treatment for HIV/AIDS.
He adds, “When someone becomes resistant, they don’t respond to LINE 1, 2 or 3 so eventually the patients fail on all the drugs and in the end the patient may die because there is no drug that can work on them.”
The emergence of resistance in persons to antiretroviral therapy increases transmission of drug resistant HIV strains to newly infected persons and is a major public health concerns.
HIV drug resistance has been reported to be high in children and adults in Central and Eastern parts of Uganda.
Children born of mothers with HIV, or those exposed to drugs yet the mothers choose not to disclose, in the end these children are getting HIV drug resistance.
Uganda has at least 1.5 million people living with HIV; 900,000 of them getting ARVs.