Antiretroviral Treatment in Africa

Could people become immune?

A paper by Dr. Malcolm Bryant of Management Sciences for Health was presented at the American Public Health Association Conference in San Francisco last November. The topic of this provocative presentation was whether widespread resistance to antiretroviral agents is inevitable in Africa.

Antiretroviral treatments provide hope to people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa and around the world. However, this treatment requires an absolutely accurate prescription coupled with an adherence by the patient to a prescribed regimen. There is scientific evidence suggesting that if the prescription is an improper cocktail or the patient does not have consistent access to medicines (or forgets to take the medicines), resistance to treatment is possible.

Management Sciences for Health is part of the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs. The focus of this network is to help health care providers learn correct prescribing practices and adherence to Directly Observed Therapy (watching someone take their medicines).

So is immunity to antiretroviral treatment in Africa inevitable? The answer is no. But it will take a commitment from public health professionals to review the rational use of pharmaceuticals in order to prevent it.