Researchers Found A PrEP Resistant Strain Of HIV

Researchers are concerned after discovering two instances of the HIV-virus mutating beyond modern treatment.

A new article published in the scientific journal The Lancet explains that two gay/bi men from the Southern European region of Occitania (which primarily encompasses the Southern third of France) were found with the evolving infection. The first man, a 23-year-old French man who has sex with men, was diagnosed with HIV in September of 2019. This was after he tested as negative in June 2019. The second man, a 54-year-old French man who has sex with other men, was then diagnosed with the same drug-resistant HIV-1 mutation.

According to Gay Nation, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of drug-resistant HIV strains. But researchers are concerned because such a strongly resistant strain is rare. In fact, only 0.1% of strains found in France have exhibited resistance to one of the main HIV drugs. But this strain was resistant to all three main classes of antiretrovirals. And then to find that same strain twice?

Single pills (brand name Truvada) containing two antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxyl fumarate. Truvada is used for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a strategy in which healthy people routinely take antiretrovirals to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. / Image via NIAID (CC)

In both cases, the strains could be traced back to their evolution but not their transmissions. Part of that is due to the fact that neither man knows the other. This would suggest that there is at least one other infected man out in the world. Thankfully, the mutation is easily detected (once the individual is in the testing room). In addition, the two men have agreed to wear condoms from now on.

Speaking to TÊTU, Professor Pierre Delobel, the head of Toulouse University Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department, said that the strain’s discovery “forces us to be on the alert, to be vigilant on its evolution in order to control it. The Spanish authorities too, since Catalonia has many links with the region.”

Source: The Lancet, Gay Nation, TÊTU

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