Increase in human immunodeficiency virus 1 diversity and detection of various subtypes and recombinants in north-eastern Brazil

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Diverse human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) subtypes and circulating recombinant forms are found in Brazil. The majority of HIV-1 molecular epidemiological studies in Brazil have been conducted in the southern and south-eastern regions of the country, although several recent studies in the north-eastern region have addressed this issue. The objective of this study was to molecularly characterize HIV-1 circulating in Pernambuco, north-eastern Brazil.


A total of 64 samples were collected from 2002 to 2003, and another 103 were collected from 2007 to 2009. The protease and partial reverse transcriptase regions of the HIV-1 polymerase-encoding (pol) gene were sequenced, and subtyping, recombination and phylogenetic analyses were performed.

Results/Key findings.

Subtype B (60.9%) was found to be predominant, followed by HIV-1 F (31.4%). Several BF recombinants (4.2%), and BC and AG recombinants were also identified. The intra-subtype genetic diversity was estimated to be 0.065 (sd±0.004) for HIV-1 B and 0.055 (sd±0.004) for HIV-1 F, reflecting a greater accumulation of mutations in subtype B (P<0.01). More codons were found to be under positive selective pressure in samples collected from 2007 to 2009, from individuals with a T-cell count≥200 cells mm−3 and from women. Coalescence data indicated that the subtype F population has been continuously expanding.


HIV-1 shows high genetic diversity in the state of Pernambuco. Thus, additional molecular evaluations of circulating strains will provide a better understanding of the epidemic and may lead to more effective preventive strategies.

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