Drug-resistant HIV strains hit Zimbabwe

HARARE – Drug-resistant HIV strains are turning up in parts of Zimbabwe as the virus stretches beyond high-risk groups and gains a stronger foothold on the general population.

The World Health Organisation has issued an alert warning of drug resistant HIV in six countries including Zimbabwe, which reported levels of pre-treatment HIV drug resistance above 10 percent.

“The reason why you will have drug resistance in any country is when people don’t take their drugs as they should, so they jump certain days or they take breaks or a holiday of some sort,” Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said

”When you revisit that drug now and it’s now resisting — that is what is called drug resistance, and increasingly we are getting that happening.”

Although HIV infection is incurable, cocktails of the drugs can control the virus. But drug adherence is bad in Zimbabwe’s rural regions due to poor patient knowledge, inaccessible healthcare and a lack of health workers to explain to patients the importance of keeping to drug regimens.