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AIDS. 1996 Jul;10(8):903-10.

Epidemiological and molecular characteristics of HIV infection in Gabon, 1986-1994.

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  • 1AIDS Programme, Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement (ORSTOM), Montpellier, France.



To describe trends in the prevalence of HIV-1 infection in different populations in Gabon, and the molecular characteristics of circulating HIV strains.


Data were collected on HIV prevalence through sentinel surveillance surveys in different populations in Libreville (the capital) and in Franceville. In Libreville, a total of 7082 individuals (hospitalized patients, tuberculosis patients, pregnant women, asymptomatic adults, prisoners) were recruited between 1986 and 1994. In Franceville, we tested 771 pregnant women and 886 healthy asymptomatic adults (1986-1988). Sera were screened for HIV antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and confirmed by Western blot or line immunoassay (LIA). Reactive samples in ELISA were tested for the presence of antibodies to HIV-1 group O viruses by ELISA using V3 peptides from HIV-1 ANT-70 and HIV-1 MVP-5180 followed by confirmation by LIA and a specific Western blot. Seventeen HIV-1 strains were isolated (1988-1993) and a 900 base-pair fragment encoding the env region containing V3, V4, V5 and beginning of gp41 was sequenced and a phylogenetic tree was constructed.


HIV prevalence was relatively low and remained stable (0.7-1.6% in pregnant women, 2.1-2.2% in the general population). The prevalence was also stable among prisoners (2.1-2.6%). Among hospitalized and tuberculosis patients prevalence was higher and increased (1.8-12.7% and 1.5-16.2%, respectively). Only three sera had antibodies to HIV-1 group O. The 17 HIV-1 strains represent six different genetic subtypes including type O.


Our data from 1986 to 1994 show a stable and low HIV prevalence in Gabon, and a high genetic diversity of HIV-1 strains. This, also observed in Cameroon, is in contrast to that found elsewhere in Africa. Differences in rate of spread of HIV infection are probably explained by interplay between numerous factors. The role of different HIV subtypes in the dynamics of the HIV epidemic should be examined further.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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