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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Feb;5(2):141-51. Epub 2007 Jan 4.

Is HIV-1 evolving to a less virulent form in humans?

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HIV and Retrovirology Research Unit, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, B2000 Antwerp, Belgium.


During the rapid spread of HIV-1 in humans, the main (M) group of HIV-1 has evolved into ten distinct subtypes, undergone countless recombination events and diversified extensively. The impact of this extreme genetic diversity on the phenotype of HIV-1 has only recently become a research focus, but early findings indicate that the dominance of HIV-1 subtype C in the current epidemic might be related to the lower virulence of this subtype compared with other subtypes. Here, we explore whether HIV-1 has reached peak virulence or has already started the slow path to attenuation.

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