How has HIV mutated over the years?

24 October 2010

Question

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?

Answer

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, isn't 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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