|how does hiv become resistant
Aug 23, 2000
Could you please explain how HIV becomes resistant to certain drugs? thanks
Response from Dr. Holodniy
When HIV replicates, it makes a copy of itself using its reverse transcriptase enzyme. During this process, it does not always make a copy that is a 100% the same as the previous version. In doing so, mutations in the virus sequence are formed. Many of the viruses with mutations cannot replicate (so called lethal mutations). Some do, though. And some of these have mutations that confer drug resistance. But these types of HIV are found in the background of an overwhelming population of virus without mutations. Because from an evolutionary standpoint, it is better to not have these mutations. In the presence of HIV drugs, a replicating HIV virus without mutations is usually not allowed to replicate further. But if mutants already exist with these mutations as formed above, then in the presence of drug, virus without mutations will not grow, but virus with drug resistant mutations will.
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