Objectives: Emerging resistance to antiretroviral drugs may jeopardize the achievements of improved access to ART. We compared the prevalence of different resistance mutations in HIV-infected adults with virological failure in a cohort with regular routine viral load (VL) monitoring (Switzerland) and cohorts with limited access to VL testing (Uganda and Lesotho).
Methods: We considered individuals who had genotypic resistance testing (GRT) upon virological failure (≥1000 copies/mL) and were on ART consisting of at least one NNRTI and two NRTIs. From Lesotho, individuals with two subsequent VLs ≥1000 copies/mL despite enhanced adherence counselling (n = 58) were included in the analysis. From Uganda, individuals with a single VL ≥1000 copies/mL (n = 120) were included in the analysis. From the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS), a population without history of monotherapy or dual therapy with the first GRT upon virological failure (n = 61) was selected.
Results: We found that 50.8% of individuals in the SHCS, 72.5% in Uganda and 81.0% in Lesotho harboured HIV with high-level resistance to at least two drugs from their current regimen. Stanford resistance scores were higher in Uganda compared with Switzerland for all drugs used in first-line treatment except zidovudine and tenofovir (P < 0.01) and higher in Lesotho compared with Uganda for all drugs used in first-line treatment except zidovudine (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Frequent VL monitoring and possibly pretreatment GRT as done in the SHCS pays off by low levels of resistance even when treatment failure occurs. The high-level resistance patterns in Lesotho compared with Uganda could reflect a selection of strains with multiple resistance during enhanced adherence counselling.