Effects of political conflict-induced treatment interruptions on HIV drug resistance

AIDS Rev. Jan-Mar 2013;15(1):15-24.


Thirty-four million people worldwide were living with the HIV by the end of 2010. Despite significant advances in antiretroviral therapy, drug resistance remains a major deterrent to successful, enduring treatment. Unplanned interruptions in antiretroviral therapy have negative effects on HIV treatment outcomes, including increased morbidity and mortality, as well as development of drug resistance. Treatment interruptions due to political conflicts, not infrequent in resource-limited settings, result in disruptions in health care, infrastructure, or treatment facilities and patient displacement. Such circumstances are ideal bases for antiretroviral therapy resistance development, but there is limited awareness of and data available on the association between political conflict and the development of HIV drug resistance. In this review we identify and discuss this association and review how varying antiretroviral therapy half-lives, genetic barriers, different HIV subtypes, and archived resistance can lead to lack of medication effectiveness upon post-conflict resumption of care. Optimized antiretroviral therapy stopping strategies as well as infrastructural concerns and stable HIV treatment systems to ensure continuity of care and rapid resumption of care must be addressed in order to mitigate risks of HIV drug resistance development during and after political conflicts. Increased awareness of such associations by clinicians as well as politicians and stakeholders is essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries
  • Disasters*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance, Viral / immunology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Load
  • Warfare*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • RNA, Viral