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Keywords:

  • HIV-1;
  • subtypes;
  • phylogenetic analyses

Abstract

It is estimated that between 5.5 and 6.1 million people are infected with HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in South Africa, with subtype C responsible for the majority of these infections. The Khayelitsha suburb of Cape Town has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in South Africa. Overcrowding combined with unemployment and crime in parts of the area perpetuates high-risk sexual behavior, which increases exposure to infection by HIV. Against this background, the objective of this study was to characterize HIV-1 in residents confirmed to be seropositive. Serotyping was performed through a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cPEIA). Genotyping methods included RNA isolation followed by RT-PCR and sequencing of the gag p24, env gp41 immunodominant region (IDR), and env gp120 V3 genome regions of HIV-1. With the exception of a possible C/D recombinant strain, all HIV-1 strains were characterized as HIV-1 group M subtype C. One individual was shown to harbor multiple strains of HIV-1 subtype C. In Southern Africa, the focus has been to develop a subtype C candidate vaccine, as this is the major subtype found in this geographical area. Therefore, the spread of HIV-1 and its recombinant strains needs to be monitored closely. J. Med. Virol. 78:1529–1536, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.