PloS one 2017 12 1512(12) e0188606 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0188606
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.
A cross-sectional, respondent driven sampling (RDS) recruitment methodology was used to enrol FSWs based in Soweto. Participants were tested for HIV and undertook a survey that included HIV knowledge and treatment status. Whole blood specimens were collected from HIV positive FSWs to measure for CD4 counts, viral load (VL) and perform HIVDR genotyping. Frequencies were determined for categorical variables and medians and interquartile ranges (IQR) for the continuous.
Of the 508 enrolled participants, 55% (n = 280) were HIV positive and of median age 32 (IQR: 20-51) years. Among the HIV positive, 51.8% (132/269) were defined as virologically suppressed (VL < 400 copies/ml). Of the 119 individuals with unsuppressed viral loads who were successfully genotyped for resistance testing 37.8% (45/119) had detectable drug resistance. In this group, HIVDR mutations were found amongst 73.7% (14/19) of individuals on treatment, 27.4% (26/95) of individuals who were treatment naïve, and 100% (5/5) of defaulters. One phylogenetic cluster was found amongst treatment naïve FSWs. The K103N mutation was detected most commonly in 68.9% (31/45) individuals with HIVDR mutations, with 20/26 (76.9%) of treatment naïve FSW with detectable resistance having this mutation. The M184V mutation was found in both FSWs on treatment (12/14, 85.7%) and those defaulting (1/5, 20.0%). DISCUSSION
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.