Similar rate of disease progression among individuals infected with HIV-1 genetic subtypes A-D

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HIV-1 is characterized by a high degree of genetic variation and can be divided into at least 10 distinct genetic subtypes. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the rate of disease progression shows subtype-specific differences.


The investigation was divided into two parts; one study in which 49 ethnic Africans were compared with 49 ethnic Swedes irrespective of the subtype of the infecting virus, and a second study in which 126 individuals infected with different genetic subtypes (28 with subtype A, 59 with subtype B, 21 with subtype C and 18 with subtype D) were compared.


CD4 cell counts, the rate of CD4 cell decline, plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, clinical status and antiviral treatment were prospectively and retrospectively recorded. The HIV-1 subtype had previously been determined by direct sequencing of the V3 domain of the env gene.


There were no significant differences in the rate of CD4 cell decline or clinical disease progression between Africans and Swedes over an observation period of 2 years. Similarly, there were no differences in the rate of CD4 cell decline, clinical progression or plasma HIV-1 RNA levels between individuals infected with subtypes A, B, C or D over a mean observation period of 44 months.


Neither the genetic subtype of the virus nor the ethnicity of the host appear to be major determinants of disease progression.

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