Since the discovery of 3'-azido-3'deoxthymidine (zidovudine) as an effective antiretroviral agent against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), drug therapy has been widely used in the treatment of AIDS. To date, new combination therapies have significantly altered the longterm prognosis for HIV-infected patients showing a reduction of plasma viral load, associated with clinical and immunological recovery. Nevertheless, in various circumstances treatment can fail for several reasons, such as patient noncompliance with the therapeutic regimen, suboptimal antiviral drug concentrations, drug pharmacokinetics, and virus resistance to one or more drugs. Virus drug resistance is the most important factor contributing to the failure of antiretroviral therapy. Since some evidence indicates that viral resistance and treatment failure are closely linked, this brief review explores the routine determination of drug resistance and its importance to shed more light on the meaning of mutations correlated to drug resistance.
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