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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2002 Mar 20;18(5):313-25.

Molecular epidemiology of HIV type 1 infection in Portugal: high prevalence of non-B subtypes.

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Unidade de Virologia/Unidade de Parasitologia e Microbiologia M├ędicas, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, P-1349-008 Lisbon, Portugal.


In this study, we have investigated the diversity of current HIV-1 strains circulating in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, Portugal. A total of 217 HIV-1-positive blood samples, collected between October 1998 and December 2000, was genetically characterized in the gp120 C2V3C3 region (n = 205) or part of the gp41 N-terminal segment (n = 12) by heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA) and/or DNA sequencing. The HMA subtyping efficiency (number of samples unambiguously subtyped by HMA divided by the total number of samples subtyped) was 65.9% (143 of 217), with indeterminate migration patterns of subtype A and G strains contributing significantly to this value. On the overall, subtype B was the most prevalent (50.2%), followed by subtypes G (21.7%), A (17.5%), and F (5.5%), whereas subtypes C, D, H, and J accounted altogether for 5.1% of the infections. Non-B subtypes were responsible for 77.4 and 33.1% of the infections among African immigrants and Portuguese subjects, respectively. Angolan individuals (n = 25) were the only ones infected with all the HIV-1 subtypes documented, probably reflecting a high degree of viral genetic diversification in their country of origin. Phylogenetic analysis showed a predominance of IbNG-like viruses among subtype A sequences and two new major subclusters within subtype G (G(P) and G(P)'). The majority of the Portuguese G sequences described formed a well-defined subcluster (G(P)), supported by bootstrap values >90%, phylogenetically distant from clade G sequences in databases. gag (p24/p7) sequence analysis of these variants confirmed the maintenance of the subtype G subclusters. The multiple subclustering observed for the major clades A, B, D, and G, as well as the variety of subtypes found, indicate a high diversity of HIV-1 variants circulating in Portugal and suggest a need for continuous epidemiologic surveillance.

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