The identification of phenotypically distinct HIV-1 variants with different prevalence during the progression of the disease has been one of the earliest discoveries in HIV-1 biology, but its relevance to AIDS pathogenesis remains only partially understood. The physiological basis for the phenotypic variability of HIV-1 was elucidated with the discovery of distinct coreceptors employed by the virus to infect susceptible cells. The role of the viral phenotype in the variable clinical course and treatment outcome of HIV-1 infection has been extensively investigated over the past two decades. In this review, we summarize the major findings on the clinical significance of the HIV-1 coreceptor usage.
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