Editor’s Choice: Weighing the Risk of Drug Resistance With the Benefits of HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis
Journal of Infectious Diseases April 15, 2015 211 (8) P.1202-1204
Robert M. Grant and Teri Liegler
The threat of drug resistance deserves careful attention from clinicians and public health officials advocating antiretroviral use as a way to control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic. Such antiretroviral use includes early treatment and preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). Concerns about drug resistance were raised before rolling out widespread antiretroviral therapy in Africa, based on the assumption that adherence to therapy would be poor and drug resistance would become prevalent. Defying expectations, the benefits of antiretroviral therapy for improving health, averting death, and preventing transmission were subsequently proven to outweigh the risks of drug resistance, and adherence to therapy in African populations is often outstanding .
Fear of drug resistance is now raised as we consider rolling out PrEP. Daily oral PrEP using emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) or TDF alone is safe and effective for preventing HIV acquisition [2–5] in sexually active adults. Adherence is essential for effectiveness [2, 6, 7]. Such regimens do not fully suppress systemic HIV infection, so starting PrEP in people already infected with HIV may lead to drug resistance [2–4]. Recommendations for PrEP emphasize the importance of HIV testing prior to starting or restarting PrEP.
In this issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Lehman et al report new information about the risk of antiretroviral resistance from the Partners PrEP Study of men and women in Africa who are partnered with a person living with HIV . (The usual term, “discordant couple,” obscures their commitment, courage, and cooperation.) The Partners PrEP Study is exceptional among randomized trials in that the levels of adherence were very high, with 71% of people randomly assigned to the …