Objective: To assess temporal changes in prevalence of transmitted HIV-1 drug resistance in a homogeneous cohort of newly infected individuals.
Methods: Pretreatment genotypic and phenotypic drug resistance was tested in 154 subjects with primary HIV-1 infection identified between 1995 and 2001 (group A; n = 76) and 1999 and 2001 (group B; n = 78). Sequence analysis was assessed by population-based sequencing. Virus susceptibility to antiretroviral agents was determined by the PhenoSense assay (ViroLogic).
Results: The frequency of resistance-associated mutations in protease (PR) and reverse transcriptase (RT) genes increased from 13.2% (1995-1998) to 19.7% (1999-2001). Although the overall prevalence of viruses with phenotypic resistance did not vary (1995-1998, 10.0%; 1999-2001, 10.8%), the distribution of drug classes changed [nucleoside RT inhibitor (NRTI): 8.3% to 2.7%; non-NRTI: 5.0% to 8.1%; protease inhibitors (PI): 1.7% to 5.4%]. The decrease of phenotypic resistance to NRTI in 1999-2001 was caused by the absence of transmitted lamivudine-resistant variants. Phenotypically susceptible variants with aspartic acid or serine residues at position 215 of RT (5.3%;P = 0.04) instead emerged. Hypersusceptibility to PI decreased from 18.3% to 5.4% (P = 0.02) while the amino acid substitutions in PR increased over time: M36I (6.6% to 19.7%) and A71V/T (3.9% to 15.8%).
Conclusions: There was an increase in the number of HIV-1 variants with both genotypic and phenotypic resistance to non-NRTI and PI over time. Furthermore, viruses with altered genotypes compatible with thymidine analogue or PI exposure but susceptible phenotypes were seen in 1999-2001. The latter findings suggest transmission of viruses from subjects who have either changed or discontinued therapy.