Detection of HIV-1 subtypes, recombinants, and dual infections in east Africa by a multi-region hybridization assay

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Objective:To enable more rapid and efficient genotyping of HIV-1 in East Africa, where subtypes A, C, and D and their recombinants are co-circulating.Design:Full-genome sequencing of HIV-1 provides complete discrimination of subtypes and recombinant forms but is costly and low-throughput compared to other genotyping approaches. Here we describe the development and evaluation of a Multi-region Hybridization Assay (MHA) for the efficient determination of HIV-1 subtypes A, C, D, recombinants, and dual infections.Methods:Five genome regions containing clustered mutations distinguishing subtypes A, C, and D were identified and used to design subtype-specific probes. DNA from primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells was used as template for real-time PCR using the fluorescent, subtype-specific probes.Results:A panel of 45 clinical samples from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, previously characterized by full-genome sequencing and including 26 pure subtypes and 19 recombinant strains, was evaluated by MHA. The MHA provided 90% sensitivity and 98% specificity for the three subtypes, efficiently discriminated subtypes from recombinant forms, and detected several dual infections.Conclusions:Accurate and efficient genotyping of HIV-1 strains in vaccine trial populations in East Africa, ascertainment of dual infections, and elucidation of the genesis of recombinant forms in individuals can be facilitated by the application of MHA.

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