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Persistence of transmitted drug resistance among subjects with primary human immunodeficiency virus infection.

Abstract

Following interruption of antiretroviral therapy among individuals with acquired drug resistance, preexisting drug-sensitive virus emerges relatively rapidly. In contrast, wild-type virus is not archived in individuals infected with drug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and thus cannot emerge rapidly in the absence of selective drug pressure. Fourteen recently HIV-infected patients with transmitted drug-resistant virus were followed for a median of 2.1 years after the estimated date of infection (EDI) without receiving antiretroviral therapy. HIV drug resistance and pol replication capacity (RC) in longitudinal plasma samples were assayed. Resistance mutations were characterized as pure populations or mixtures. The mean time to first detection of a mixture of wild-type and drug-resistant viruses was 96 weeks (1.8 years) (95% confidence interval, 48 to 192 weeks) after the EDI. The median time to loss of detectable drug resistance using population-based assays ranged from 4.1 years (conservative estimate) to longer than the lifetime of the individual (less conservative estimate). The transmission of drug-resistant virus was not associated with virus with reduced RC. Sexual transmission of HIV selects for highly fit drug-resistant variants that persist for years. The prolonged persistence of transmitted drug resistance strongly supports the routine use of HIV resistance genotyping for all newly diagnosed individuals.

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