Populations with a high prevalence of AIDS-immunocompromised
people are more likely to see the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial
infections, according to a study published in PLOS One.
“People with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to
opportunistic bacterial infections and are therefore frequently prescribed
antibiotics to prevent or treat these infections,” said Nina Fefferman, a
professor in UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and coauthor
of the study. “This increases the exposure of those bacteria to antibiotics,
giving them more chances to evolve to become resistant to the medication and
contributing to the current serious public health threat of drug-resistant
The research was led by Ashley DeNegre, who at the time of
the study was an ecology and evolutionary biology PhD student at Rutgers
For the study, scientists used mathematical models to
integrate and extend results from many previous studies to consider the effect
on the emergence of antibiotic resistance in two populations: Swaziland, where
there was a reported HIV/AIDS prevalence of 27.4% of the population, and
Indonesia, in southeast Asia, where there was a much lower reported HIV/AIDS
prevalence of 0.46%.
The results provide a better understanding of
epidemiological patterns in populations with a high number of immunocompromised
people due to AIDS and HIV, with special attention to low-income communities in
the developing world.
“This work will hopefully help inform public health decision
makers about how antibiotic stewardship should be tailored differently in
high-prevalence AIDS-affected communities to help combat the rising global risk
of drug-resistant infections,” said Fefferman.
Reference: De Negre AA, et al.Emergence of antibiotic
resistance in immunocompromised host populations: A case study of emerging
antibiotic resistant tuberculosis in AIDS patients. PLUS ONE. Published 28
February 2019. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0212969