HIV-1 viraemia and drug resistance amongst female sex workers in Soweto, South Africa: A cross sectional study
HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) poses a threat to future antiretroviral therapy success. Monitoring HIVDR patterns is of particular importance in populations such as sex workers (SWs), where documented HIV prevalence is between 34-89%, and in countries with limited therapeutic options. Currently in South Africa, there is a dearth in evidence and no ongoing surveillance of HIVDR amongst sex work populations. This study aims to describe the prevalence of HIVDR amongst a sample of female sex workers (FSWs) from Soweto, South Africa. It found that more than one third (45/119) of the genotyped sample had HIVDR, with resistance to the NNRTI class being the most common. Almost half of HIV positive FSWs had unsuppressed viral loads, increasing the likelihood for onward transmission of HIV. Disturbingly, more than 1:4 treatment naïve women with unsuppressed viral loads had HIVDR suggesting that possible sexual transmission of drug resistance is occurring in this high-risk population. Given the high burden of HIVDR in a population with a high background prevalence of HIV, it is imperative that routine monitoring of HIVDR be implemented. Understanding transmission dynamics of HIVDR in FSW and its impact on treatment success should be urgently elucidated.