Molecular evidence of HIV-1 transmission in 20 Korean individuals with haemophilia: phylogenetic analysis of thevifgene

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To assess whether a genetic relationship exists between the viruses infecting HIV-positive patients with haemophilia and those infecting plasma donors, we determined the vif sequences in 169 individuals, including 20 haemophilia patients, 3 plasma donors, and 146 local controls. Twenty haemophilia patients were diagnosed with HIV-1 at 1–2 years after exposure to factor IX (FIX) manufactured in Korea, beginning in 1989–1990. Plasma samples from donors O and P were used to manufacture clotting factors including FIX used to treat the 20 haemophiliacs. The vif gene from frozen stored serum samples obtained 1–3 years after diagnosis was amplified by RT-PCR, and subjected to direct sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that vif sequences from 128 of the samples (including haemophilia patients and donors) belonged to the Korean subclade of HIV-1 subtype B (KSB). Sequences from 41 other participants were identified as subtype B, but outside the Korean subclade. Sequences of the vif gene from donors O and P plus the 20 individuals with haemophilia comprised two subclusters within KSB. In addition, signature pattern analysis disclosed the presence of conserved nucleotides at two positions in donors and haemophiliacs only. Together with information on KSB, dates of plasma donations and seroconversion of haemophilia patients, our results suggest that the haemophiliacs examined here became infected by viruses in the domestic clotting factor used for treatment.

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