From L to R: Natalie Kinloch, Zabrina Brumme, Birkneh Tilahun Tadesse

HIV-infected Ethiopian children failing therapy show high levels of drug resistance

February 20, 2018

By Phoebe Melvin

Over 65,000 children in Ethiopia currently live with HIV. SFU health sciences researchers Zabrina Brumme and Mark Brockman, along with MSc student Natalie Kinloch and staff scientist Bemuluyigza Baraki, collaborated with clinician-researchers at the University of Hawassa, Ethiopia to undertake a survey of HIV drug resistance among HIV-infected children failing their first-ever HIV treatment regimen in Southern Ethiopia.

This study, which represents the first large-scale survey of HIV drug resistance in this setting, revealed high levels of HIV drug resistance in this vulnerable population. The findings outline urgent need for routine and timely access to viral load monitoring and drug resistance genotyping (a test that looks for genetic mutations in HIV that cause drug resistance) both of which are standard-of- care in countries like Canada. The researchers also highlight the need for expanded access to additional HIV medication in resource-challenged environments. Finding effective clinical care options for HIV-infected children is vital in the fight to end HIV/AIDS.

This research was funded by a Mowafaghian Child Health Faculty Award to Zabrina Brumme, and was published in the Mark Wainberg Memorial issue of the open-access journal Viruses. Dr. Mark Wainberg, an eminent Canadian HIV scientist and human rights activist, passed away in 2017.