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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1998 May 20;14(8):669-76.

A sudden epidemic of HIV type 1 among injecting drug users in the former Soviet Union: identification of subtype A, subtype B, and novel gagA/envB recombinants.

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The D.I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology, Moscow, Russia.


The former Soviet Union republics have experienced an explosive human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) epidemic among injecting drug users (IDUs), consisting mainly of subtype A viruses originated from a point source (Bobkov et al.: AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 1997;13:1195-1201). To determine whether new HIV-1 subtypes have entered the IDU population, 46 samples derived from IDUs in Russia (n = 39) and the Ukraine (n = 7) were genotyped by heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA). It was shown that 83% of IDU HIV-1 strains found in both countries belong to genetic subtype A. However, env subtype B was also found in 17% of cases. The sequence data showed a marked intrasubtype homogeneity of HIV-1 (the average means of interpatient genetic distance were 1.1 and 1.7% [in the gag gene] or 1.8 and 2.3% [in the env gene] for subtype A and subtype B, respectively), confirming the hypothesis of a point source of virus for each subtype variant. Moreover, recombinant gagA/envB variants originating from those two strains were also found in two samples collected in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. In conclusion, our results suggest that two strains of HIV-1 belonging to different genetic subtypes, A and B, as well as gagA/envB recombinants between genomes of these strains, are now circulating simultaneously among IDUs in the former Soviet Union.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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