Background. To analyze the time trends of the viral subtype distributions according to gender, risk group, and geographical origin of the patients in 1128 primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection (PHI), diagnosed in France (1996–2010). To study whether the viral diversity had an impact on the virological and immunological responses in patients initiating combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) soon after infection.
Methods. The study population comprised PHI patients enrolled in the ANRS-PRIMO-cohort. Subtypes were determined by phylogenetic analysis of reverse transcriptase gene. Viral suppression (<400 copies/mL and <50 copies/mL) and CD4 T-cell counts increase were assessed for those who initiated cART at PHI diagnosis.
Results. Non-B subtypes (285/1128, 25.3%) were present in all regions of France and all risk groups, and increased in frequency over time. Non-B strains were highly diverse and included 6 subtypes, 10 circulating recombinant forms (CRFs), and several unique recombinant forms (URFs). Virological response in patients infected with a non-B virus was similar to that of patients with a subtype-B virus over the first 2 years of cART. Patients infected with either a CRF02_AG strain or another non-B virus had better immunological responses than those infected with a subtype-B virus.
Conclusions. Over the last 15 years in France, viral diversity has increased in all risk groups. This is the first large study comparing the responses of patients treated since PHI and showing a similar virological and immunological response to cART between the 2 groups of patients (B and non-B). Our results are encouraging for countries where non-B strains predominate in view of the increasing availability of cART.