Epidemiologic and Molecular Characterization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 in Southern Brazil

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HIV subtype C is the most prevalent subtype in the world. Despite its recent expansion in Brazil, HIV-1C already prevails in the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. This unique HIV epidemiology has prompted us to characterize that population. Seventy-seven HIV-1–infected subjects attending the largest HIV/AIDS clinic of the state had the protease and reverse transcriptase (RT) genes of their virus subtyped and genotyped. When subtype-specific infections were plotted according to year of diagnosis, the prevalence of subtype C was shown to increase over the last 18 years of the epidemic, along with a concomitant decrease of subtype B. Comparison of subtype C–infected treated and untreated subjects revealed amino acid differences in protease and RT, especially in the RT mutation D/G123S. The overall analysis of drug resistance mutations in viruses from treated subjects has highlighted some associations between subtypes and particular mutations, such as V82A/F/T/S in protease and subtype F1 and M41L and L210W in RT and subtype B. The characterization of this important population, which is one of a few in the developing world where a large number of HIV-1C–infected subjects are under antiretroviral treatment, underscores its potential usefulness in clinical, treatment, and vaccine trials in Brazil.

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