Worldwide circulating HIV-1 genomes show extensive variation represented by different subtypes, polymorphisms and drug-resistant strains. Reports on the impact of sequence variation on antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes are mixed. In this review, we summarize relevant published data from both resource-rich and resource-limited countries in the last 10 years on the impact of HIV-1 sequence diversity on treatment outcomes. The prevalence of transmission of drug resistant mutations (DRMs) varies considerably, ranging from 0% to 27% worldwide. Factors such as geographic location, access and availability to ART, duration since inception of treatment programs, quality of care, risk-taking behaviors, mode of transmission, and viral subtype all dictate the prevalence in a particular geographical region. Although HIV-1 subtype may not be a good predictor of treatment outcome, review of emerging evidence supports the fact that HIV-1 genome sequence-resulting from natural polymorphisms or drug-associated mutations-matters when it comes to treatment outcomes. Therefore, continued surveillance of drug resistant variants in both treatment-naïve and treatment-experienced populations is needed to reduce the transmission of DRMs and to optimize the efficacy of the current ART armamentarium.
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