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This review examines the enormous progress that has been made in the past decade in understanding the origin of HIV, HIV genetic variability, and the impact of global HIV diversity on the pandemic. Multiple zoonotic transmissions of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) have resulted in different HIV lineages in humans. In addition, the high mutation and recombination rates during viral replication result in a great genetic variability of HIV within individuals, as well as within populations, upon which evolutionary selection pressures act. The global HIV pandemic is examined in the context of HIV evolution, and the global diversity of HIV subtypes and recombinants is discussed in detail. Finally, the impact of HIV diversity on pathogenesis, transmission, diagnosis, treatment, the immune response, and vaccine development is reviewed.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Mol Med

Publication Date





182 - 192


Genetic Variation, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Pandemics, Phylogeny