The UK has one of the highest reported rates of primary resistance to HIV drugs worldwide, and the prevalence of resistance is on the increase, according to researchers from University College London

The largest increase was for non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, according to the researchers, with nearly one in five patients exhibiting some resistance to this class at the end of the study.

The researchers believe the data show that people are now being infected with HIV strains that are already resistant to antiretrovirals, for example by having unsafe sex with someone already treated for HIV infection.

This in turn could suggest that advances in the care of the patients with the infection has imparted some level of complacency about having unprotected intercourse.

The study is available for download as an ‘online first’ from the British Medical journal’s website.

Meanwhile, a study has found that doctors may not be discussing the range of therapeutic options available to patients with resistant HIV. The openMind study, sponsored by Roche, found that 75% of patients would consider taking an injectable treatment, such as Roche’s own Fuzeon (enfuvirtide) product, but that this option is only put forward in 25% of consultations, despite being recommended in international treatment guidelines.

The study also found that only 10% of eligible patients were currently prescribed Fuzeon. Recent trials have shown that Roche’s drug can double the chances of achieving undetectable viral loads when combined with other oral antiretrovirals.