HIV/AIDS mortality has been decreasing over the last decade. While promising, this decrease correlated directly with increased use of antiretroviral drugs. As a natural consequence of its high mutation rate, treatments provide selection pressure that promotes the natural selection of escape mutants. Individuals may acquire drug-naive strains, or those that have already mutated due to treatment. Even within a host, mutation affects HIV tropism, where initial infection begins with R5-tropic virus, but the clinical transition to AIDS correlates with mutations that lead to an X4-tropic switch. Furthermore, the high mutation rate of HIV has spelled failure for all attempts at an effective vaccine. Pre-exposure drugs are currently the most effective drug-based preventatives, but their effectiveness is also threatened by viral mutation. From attachment and entry to assembly and release, the steps in the replication cycle are also discussed to describe the drug mechanisms and mutations that arise due to those drugs. Revealing the patterns of HIV-1 mutations, their effects, and the coordinated attempt to understand and control them will lead to effective use of current preventative measures and treatment options, as well as the development of new ones.
Keywords: HIV-1; drug resistance; mutation; vaccines.