The World Health Organization recommends countries routinely implement nationally representative HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) surveys among people infected with HIV to measure the level of drug resistance. The results of HIVDR surveys are a critical component of HIV programs and can guide changes to pediatric and adult antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment regimens, including first- and second-line regimen decisions. I-TECH has been implementing HIVDR surveys in Malawi since 2016.
HIV DR Surveys Conducted Since 2016:
- Infant HIVDR Survey: An HIVDR survey was conducted among infants aged 18 months and younger to determine the level of pediatric resistance to nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), and protease inhibitors (PI) ART drugs through exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A total of 232 eligible remnant dried blood spot (DBS) samples from nine early infant diagnosis (EID)-approved laboratories were used for the diagnosis of HIV in infants between June 2016 and December 2017.
- Antenatal Care (ANC)/Pregnant Women HIVDR Survey: An HIVDR survey was conducted to measure resistance to NNRTI, NRTI and PI drugs among ANC clients who were found to have a recent HIV infection. A total of 45 DBS samples from women with recent HIV infection were collected as part of the 2016 HIV sentinel surveillance survey and were successfully amplified and sequenced.
The next step in HIV surveillance activity is monitoring HIVDR among pregnant women initiating dolutegravir (DTG)-based regimens, as well as the potential emergence of DTG resistance in infants via mother-to-child transmission. A study of DTG resistance is currently underway in Malawi and will determine the level of DTG resistance in adults who are unable to achieve viral load suppression and DTG resistance in children < 15 years old who are unable to achieve viral load suppression.