The high genetic diversity of HIV is one of its most significant features, as it has consequences in global distribution, vaccine design, therapy success, disease progression, transmissibility and viral load testing. Studying HIV diversity helps to understand its origins, migration patterns, current distribution and transmission events. New advances in sequencing technologies based on the parallel acquisition of data are now used to characterize within-host and population processes in depth. Additionally, we have seen similar advances in statistical methods designed to model the past history of lineages (the phylodynamic framework) to ultimately gain better insights into the evolutionary history of HIV. We can, for example, estimate population size changes, lineage dispersion over geographic areas and epidemiological parameters solely from sequence data. In this article, we review some of the evolutionary approaches used to study transmission patterns and processes in HIV and the insights gained from such studies.
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