High proportion of unrelated HIV-1 intersubtype recombinants in the Mbeya region of southwest Tanzania

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BackgroundIn Mbeya, a rural region of southwest Tanzania, HIV-1 subtypes A, C and D have been co-circulating since the early 1990s.ObjectiveTo define to what extent the co-existence of subtypes has led to recombinant HIV-1 strains and whether there is evidence for epidemic spread of any circulating recombinant form.MethodsNine HIV-1-seropositive young adults from Mbeya Town with no evident high-risk behaviour contributed peripheral blood mononuclear cells for this study. Nine virtually full-length-genome-sequences were amplified from this DNA and phylogenetically analysed.ResultsOut of the nine samples, two were subtype A (22%), two were subtype C (22%) and five were recombinants (56%): four A/C recombinants and one C/D recombinant. None of the recombinants were related to each other; all of them had different mosaic structures. Most of the genome in the recombinants was subtype C.ConclusionA high proportion of unrelated intersubtype recombinants, none of them apparently spreading in the population, may be present in southwest Tanzania.

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