Since the AIDS pandemic was first recognized in the early 1980s, HIV has killed more than 30 million individuals. The threat that this virus posed to both individuals and entire populations galvanized the scientific and public health care communities to unprecedented discovery and accomplishment. HIV research ushered in a golden age of antiviral drug development. National HIV treatment programs have saved millions of lives, prevented millions of infections, and restored hope to the populations hardest hit by the pandemic. The success of the global response to HIV has also united public health officials, political leaders, and global funders to combat other pandemic infections.
One of the main challenges in treating HIV and other pandemic viral infections is that some viruses mutate at high rates and rapidly develop resistance to existing antiviral drugs. The omnipresent threat of drug resistance is a fundamental aspect of HIV treatment that requires the lifelong use of multiple-drug combinations. Although several highly effective drug combinations have been identified, HIV drug resistance is increasing worldwide. This resistance results in treatment failures, the use of more costly second- and third-line treatment regimens, and the transmission of emergent drug-resistant virus strains to previously uninfected individuals.
The Stanford HIV Drug Resistance Database (HIVDB) is an essential resource for health care organizations, scientists, and clinicians worldwide. HIV care providers use HIVDB to help interpret genetically based HIV drug resistance tests to choose the most appropriate treatment for their patients. Epidemiologists use HIVDB to track the global spread of HIV drug resistance. Researchers studying HIV evolution and drug resistance use HIVDB to place their findings in the context of previous studies and to develop new antiviral drugs likely to be active against circulating drug-resistant HIV strains.