Science Questions

How has HIV mutated over the years?

Sun, 24th Oct 2010

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show AIDS to conquering HIV


Luciano Medrano, via facebook asked:

How did HIV develop and mutate over the course of the years? Rhinoviruses like the cold virus are mutating constantly every year and we have different strains. So what about with HIV? Is it the same?


We put this questin to Mark Marsh from University College London...


Mark -   HIV mutates at a very high rate and in fact, within any infected individual there's a whole swarm of viruses rather than a single strain, and then the selective conditions within those individuals tend to select the strains which are most dominant.  But HIV certainly replicates at a high rate, mutates at a high rate.


Chris -   I suppose  that has implications to resistance to treatment as well, isnít it?


Mark -   Absolutely, yes.


Chris -   People then become resistant to the drugs they're on because of this selective pressure.


Mark -   Absolutely.


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