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J Med Virol. 2005 Apr;75(4):483-90.

HIV-1 subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) from HIV-infected patients residing in two regions of central and southern Italy.

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Clinic of Infectious Diseases, University of Bari, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.


A total of 347 pol gene sequences from 88 Tuscan and 259 Apulian subjects (including 52 non-Italians and 9 children) were analyzed phylogenetically. Forty-four (12.6%) non-B subtypes were found, including 3.4% C, 1.4% F1, 0.8% G, and 0.3% each for J and A pure subtypes, and 3.7% CRF02_AG, 1.4% CRF01_AE, 0.6% BF, and 0.3% CRF06-cpx recombinant forms. An additional sample close-matched the pol gene of an unique recombinant form (URF AGK 99GR303). The non-B subtypes were from 40 adults and 4 children; 12 of these 44 patients were epidemiologically linked. Thirty-three of the 44 non-B viruses pertained to non-Italian immigrants and 11 to Italians, signifying that 63.4% immigrants and 3.7% Italians harbored non-B subtypes. The overall frequency of non-B subtypes was higher in Tuscany than in Apulia (18.1% vs. 10.8%). Moreover, 6.1% and 3.0% non-B subtypes were found among Italians from Florence and Apulia, respectively, while 52.1% and 72.4% of immigrants living in Tuscany and Apulia harbored non-B subtypes. Women infected by means of sexual contact prevailed among non-Italian adults; the majority of Italians were males and admitted high-risk sexual behavior. Four Italians had a history of extensive travel in countries of high endemicity. Social and epidemiological changes are responsible for an increasing circulation of non-B subtypes in Italy. Although non-B subtypes principally infect non-Italian patients, in Italy they can no longer be considered exclusively restricted to subjects from endemic areas.

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