A multiple-country survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested certain HIV strains are showing increased drug resistance against some of the widely-used medications and could set back the fight against AIDS.

In six of the 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America where the survey was conducted. more than 10 percent of people starting antiretroviral therapy were shown to have Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) strains resisting common HIV medications.

This latest finding is based on WHOs HIV Drug Resistance Report 2017.

The United Nations health agency is warning that this kind of resistance could derail the progress against halting the spread of the disease and ultimately hamper the global goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

Currently, there are 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide. Of the number, 19.5 million had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2016. But while most of these people are progressing well with the treatment, WHO is still seeing a trend of emerging drug resistance.

The international health agency explained that drug resistance may have stemmed from patients' failing to adhere to medication routine, because some patients do not have reliable, continual access to HIV treatment.

Making matters worse is that individuals with resistant HIV strains could fail their treatment plan and pass the resistant strain to another.

In this case, treatment generally becomes harder and more expensive. And patients with resistant strains need to use a different treatment regimen.

WHO is predicting that there could be an additional 135,000 deaths and 105,000 new infections within the next five years if HIV drug resistant strains are not addressed.

For its part, the WHO is advising countries to shift to an alternative first-line therapy should HIV drug resistance become higher in their areas, according to Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO Director for HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme.

Additionally, a new five-year global action plan is being initiated to prevent, monitor, and respond to HIV drug resistance, which calls for countries and partners to participate in the action plan.

In the Philippines, there are a total of 42,912 HIV cases, 38,871 of them asymptomatic, and 2,141 deaths from January 1984 to April 2017.

Of that number, less than half - 19,653 - are on antiretroviral therapy, while 4,041 cases progressed to the end-stage AIDS. MIMS

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