New HIV drug marks fresh hope for patients
A new class of HIV drugs has become available in the UK.
The introduction of Raltegravir in Britain means patients who have built up immunity to existing drugs now have an alternative treatment option.
The new drug works by preventing an enzyme essential for HIV to be able to reproduce.
Currently approximately 73,000 people live with HIV in the UK and Raltegravir will be saved for patients who have stopped responding to other treatments.
Resistance to HIV medication is increasingly common in Britain, with more than one in 10 patients experiencing some level of resistance to one drug or more, research has revealed.
Drug treatment for HIV is helping patients to live longer in Britain and the biggest test experts face is the risk of resistance.
Dr Mark Nelson, director of HIV services and Chelsea and Westminster hospital, said the new drug would be used for a small number of patients, in conjunction with other HIV drugs.
‘HIV is a clever virus which adapts and mutates quickly, producing drug resistant strains of the virus,’ said Dr Nelson.
‘The more ways we have to attack the virus, the more chance we have of successfully managing the disease,’ he explained.
‘But we’ve got to be smart about how we use these new drugs – we don’t want to repeat past mistakes where resistance arose from using single therapies.’