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High Genetic Diversity in Human Immunodeficiency Virus – Type 1 in Jamaica



The subtypes of the human immunodeficiency virus – type 1 (HIV-1) strains from 54 HIV-1 – infected persons including 44 strains which were typed previously by heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA) were determined by DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Of 54 HIV- infected persons, 92.5% were infected with HIV-1 subtype B and 7.5% with other HIV-1 subtypes including subtypes D (3.7%), A (1.9%) and J (1.9%). In the phylogenetic analysis, the subtype A virus found in the sample clustered with subtype A reference strains and a circulating recombinant form (CRF) reference strain which originates in Central Africa and is circulating in Cuba indicating a close relationship between these viruses. There was 86% concordance between HMA and DNA sequencing in assigning subtype B viruses. For the non-B subtype viruses, there was less concordance between the two methods (67%). The results confirm the predominance of HIV-1 subtype B strains and the high genetic diversity of HIV-1 strains in circulation in Jamaica. The efficacies and some limitations of the HMA as a method of HIV-1 subtyping also were noted. It is important that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica be monitored meticulously for possible expansions in non-B subtypes and the emergence of inter-subtype recombinant forms. We recommend that the more expensive DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis, including HIV-1 genotyping for antiretroviral drug resistance testing, be used as an adjunct to the more costeffective HMA to track the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica.

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e-Published: 18 Sep, 2013
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