The subtypes of 141 isolates of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) from Jamaica were determined by a combination of env and gag heteroduplex mobility analysis (HMA) genotyping. The majority of HIV-1 isolates were subtype B (131/141, 93.0%); one (0.8%) isolate each of subtypes C, D and E was found and 7 (4.9%) were indeterminate. These results and the failure of the sets of primers used to amplify some of the HIV-1 isolates provide strong evidence of genetic diversity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica. Surveillance of the circulating HIV-1 genetic subtypes is a prerequisite for developing regional vaccine strategies and understanding the transmission patterns of the virus. This is the first study of its kind in Jamaica and the findings complement data from other Caribbean countries.
This work supports the view of colleagues from the French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean that an epidemiological network supported by regional laboratories will help track this epidemic accurately with positive outcomes for the public.