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The intrinsic rate of viral replication in HIV-infected patients treated with antiretroviral combination therapy is estimated by using a mathematical model of viral dynamics. This intrinsic replication is found to be episodic, varying considerably in quantity between patients (even among those achieving long-term undetectable levels of viremia) and is always reduced by increasing the potency of the antiviral drug regimen. The analysis reveals that even in conditions of perfect patient adherence and drug penetration a substantial level of residual viral replication is expected. The rate of evolution in the viral quasispecies, and thus also the probability of new drug-resistant viral strains being created, is proportional to the total amount of residual viral replication. Under most circumstances, the viral population continues to turn over rapidly during therapy, albeit at a much reduced level.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Publication Date





15167 - 15172