Division of Infection and Immunity


HIV drug resistance not immediate threat to test and treat roll-out

24 February 2017

A large AHRI clinical trial has shown that high levels of HIV drug resistance are emerging, but do not immediately pose a threat in the context of current first-line drug therapies.

Blood Spot Testing

Using next generation sequencing, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) scientists sequenced the HIV genome of more than 1300 ART naïve, HIV positive participants. Deep sequencing allows scientists to detect mutations down to 2% of the viral population, giving a more detailed perspective than the gold standard for drug resistance testing, called 'Sanger Sequencing'.

Their results show around 17% of the participants were infected with a resistant strain of HIV. This figure is consistent with ART roll-out for more than a decade in South Africa. However, the study findings show that these resistances didn't necessarily affect treatment outcomes. 95% of participants on treatment successfully suppressed the virus. This is higher than the UNAIDS target of 90%.



  • Blood Spot Testing (Credit: Ben Gilbert, Wellcome; Samora Chapman; Greg Lomas)