Why is antimicrobial resistance a problem for HIV carriers?
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). As many of these viruses are made in the body during the period of infection the chance of one or more of these viruses being slightly different to the parent virus and therefore able to resist the effects of the anti-HIV drugs is high. The rate at which the viruses replicates is so high (meaning a resistant virus can produce many other resistant viruses in a relatively short space of time) that a variety of drugs (called combination therapy) must be taken to try to keep the virus levels in the infected person as low as possible.
Another problem is that of antimicrobial resistance of the bugs that cause what are know as opportunistic infections. When a person has AIDS their immune system is unable to cope with infections that a healthy person could overcome quickly. Effective treatment by antimicrobial agents is essential to get rid of the infecting organism and prevent more serious consequences for the AIDS patient. The development of antimicrobial resistance presents another problem for AIDS patients. Infections such as multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are a serious problem for AIDS patients. Tuberculosis can be treated successfully in many cases but MDR-TB is much more difficult to treat as it is not susceptible to as many antibiotics. See the Center for Disease Control information about tuberculosis and HIV and the American Lung Association factsheet on MDR-TB.
Date of Posting: 23/01/2003
Date of next Review: 15/01/2005
What is antimicrobial resistance?
HIV; AIDS; AIDS-Related Opportunitstic Infections; Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant; Drug Resistance, Microbial