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Retrovirology. 2012 May 9;9:40. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-9-40.

Limited SHIV env diversification in macaques failing oral antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis.

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National Center for HIV, Hepatitis, STD, and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.



Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with daily Truvada [a combination of emtricitabine (FTC) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)] is a novel HIV prevention strategy recently found to prevent HIV transmission among men who have sex with men and heterosexual couples. Acute infection in adherent persons who fail PrEP will inevitably occur under concurrent antiretroviral therapy, thus raising questions regarding the potential impact of PrEP on early viral dynamics. We investigated viral evolution dynamics in a macaque model of PrEP consisting of repeated rectal exposures to SHIV162P3 in the presence of PrEP.


Four macaques were infected during daily or intermittent PrEP with FTC or FTC/TDF, and five were untreated controls. SHIV env sequence evolution was monitored by single genome amplification with phylogenetic and sequence analysis. Mean nucleotide divergence from transmitted founder viruses calculated 17 weeks (range = 12-20) post peak viremia was significantly lower in PrEP failures than in control animals (7.2 × 10-3 compared to 1.6 × 10-2 nucleotide substitutions per site per year, respectively, p < 0.0001). Mean virus diversity was also lower in PrEP failures after 17 weeks (0.13% vs. 0.53% in controls, p < 0.0001).


Our results in a macaque model of acute HIV infection suggest that infection during PrEP limits early virus evolution likely because of a direct antiviral effect of PrEP and/or reduced target cell availability. Reduced virus diversification during early infection might enhance immune control by slowing the selection of escape mutants.

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