HIV-1 and HIV-2 dual infection: lack of HIV-2 provirus correlates with low CD4+ lymphocyte counts

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Objective:We conducted this study to genetically characterize dual infection in individuals demonstrating a dual serological profile.Methods:All subjects were first evaluated by immunoblot for antibody reactivity to the major viral antigens for HIV-1 and HIV-2. Sera were judged to be dual-seropositive if they reacted with strong and equal intensity with the envelope antigens of both HIV-1 and HIV-2 and were confirmed with type-specific recombinant env peptides. We used nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify proviral gag and env sequence from peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) DNA from HIV-1- and HIV-2-infected individuals. Positive amplification was detected after Southern blot hybridization.Results:Plasmid dilution and mixing showed equivalent sensitivity of HIV-1 and HIV-2 primers that was not altered by heterologous target sequences. The DNA PCR showed 100% sensitivity and specificity for detection of monotypic HIV infection. Serologically defined HIV-dual reactives were evaluated by this assay, with 100% detection in female sex workers (21 out of 21), but only 38.5% detection (five out of 13) in hospitalized patients; all being HIV-1 positive only. The lack of HIV-2 proviral signal was significantly correlated with low CD4+ lymphocyte counts (P value = 0.04).Conclusion:The results suggest that HIV dual infection may not be a static condition. Levels of HIV-2 may decrease with disease progression or sequester in tissue reservoirs; our results may also suggest that HIV-1 effectively overgrows HIV-2 in the dually exposed host individual.

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