We used a novel high resolution melting (HRM) diversity assay to analyze HIV diversity in Ugandan children (ages 0.6 to 12.4 years) who were enrolled in an observational study of antiretroviral treatment (ART). Children were maintained on ART if they were clinically and immunologically stable.
HIV diversity was measured prior to ART (baseline) in 76 children and after 48 or 96 weeks of ART in 14 children who were not virally suppressed. HIV diversity (expressed as HRM scores) was measured in six regions of the HIV genome (two in gag, one in pol, three in env).
Higher baseline HRM scores were significantly associated with older age (≥ 2 years, P ≤ 0.001 for all six regions). HRM scores from different regions were weakly correlated. Higher baseline HRM scores in three regions (one in gag, two in env) were associated with ART failure. HIV diversity was lower in four regions (two in gag, one in pol, one in env) after 48 to 96 weeks of non-suppressive ART compared to baseline.
Higher levels of HIV diversity were observed in older children prior to ART and higher levels of diversity in some regions of the HIV genome were associated with ART failure. Prolonged exposure to non-suppressive ART was associated with a significant decrease in viral diversity in selected regions of the HIV genome.