At least two out of every 10 people living with HIV/Aids in Uganda are resistant to anti-retroviral drugs, a local health research institute has found.


Presenting the findings of a study conducted to determine the pattern and impacts of ARV drug resistance, the Uganda Virus Research (UVRI) Institute said pre-treatment resistance is more common and highly prevalent in the capital Kampala and eastern Uganda.

The institute said drug resistance prevalence rates were found to be higher among mothers, children and adolescents. Drug resistance requires patients to switch to more expensive and scarce medicines.

“We have a lot of pre-treatment ARV drug resistance in women and children, especially those born to mothers on Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV/Aids treatment.

“This was particularly so during those days when we were administering one drug, not the combination of three drugs (as is the case now). Mothers developed drug resistance and passed it on to their children,” said UVRI director Prof Pontiano Kaleebu.

Among other factors, the institute said school-going adolescents were too shy to take their ARV drugs because they do not want their peers to know they are living with HIV/AIDS.

The researchers determined that there were two major types of drug resistance. The most common is ‘transmitted’ resistance, which is passed on by someone who already has a drug-resistant strain of the virus.

The second type is known as acquired drug resistance. It develops in patients who fail to follow the prescribed dosages and drug variants. Both types of resistance require patients to be switched from the first to second or third line of anti-retroviral therapy.