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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008 Aug 15;48(5):599-606. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181806c0e.

High prevalence of unique recombinant forms of HIV-1 in Ghana: molecular epidemiology from an antiretroviral resistance study.

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Viral Pathogenesis Department, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.



In Ghana, programs to expand antiretroviral access are being implemented. In this context, the dynamic genetic evolution of HIV-1 requires continuous surveillance, particularly when diverse genetic forms co-circulate.


Phylogenetic and antiretroviral resistance analyses of HIV-1 partial pol sequences from plasma RNA samples from 207 Ghanaian individuals were performed.


66% of infections were CRF02_AG, whereas 25% were unique recombinant forms (URFs). All 52 URFs were characterized by bootscanning. CRF02_AG was parental strain in 87% of URFs, forming recombinants with genetic forms circulating in minor proportions: CRF06_cpx, sub-subtype A3, CRF09_cpx and subtypes G and D. Two triple recombinants (CRF02_AG/A3/CRF06_cpx and CRF02_AG/A3/CRF09_cpx) were identified. Antiretroviral resistance analyses revealed that six individuals, five of which were antiretroviral drug-experienced, harbored mutations conferring high level of resistance to reverse transcriptase inhibitors. No major resistance mutations were identified in the protease, although insertions of one and three amino acids were detected.


The high frequency of URFs detected probably reflects a significant incidence of coinfections or superinfections with diverse viral strains, which increases the genetic complexity of the HIV-1 epidemic in West Africa. Monitoring of HIV-1 drug resistance might provide data on the implications of intersubtype recombination in response to antiretrovirals.

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