Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND:The presence of high-abundance drug-resistant HIV-1 jeopardizes success of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Despite numerous investigations, the clinical impact of low-abundance drug-resistant HIV-1 variants (LA-DRVs) at levels <15%-25% of the virus population in antiretroviral (ARV) drug-naive individuals remains controversial. METHODS:We systematically reviewed 103 studies assessing prevalence, detection methods, technical and clinical detection cutoffs, and clinical significance of LA-DRVs in antiretroviral drug-naive adults. RESULTS:In total, 14 919 ARV drug-naive individuals were included. Prevalence of LA-DRVs (ie, proportion of individuals harboring LA-DRVs) was 0%-100%. Technical detection cutoffs showed a 4 log range (0.001%-10%); 42/103 (40.8%) studies investigating the impact of LA-DRVs on ART; 25 studies included only individuals on first-line nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based ART regimens. Eleven of those 25 studies (44.0%) reported a significantly association between preexisting LA-DRVs and risk of virological failure whereas 14/25 (56.0%) did not. CONCLUSIONS:Comparability of the 103 studies is hampered by high heterogeneity of the studies' designs and use of different methods to detect LA-DRVs. Thus, evaluating clinical impact of LA-DRVs on first-line ART remains challenging. We, the WHO HIVResNet working group, defined central areas of future investigations to guide further efforts to implement ultrasensitive resistance testing in routine settings.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of infectious diseases

Publication Date





1584 - 1597


Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.


WHO HIVResNet Working Group