Objective: The increasing prevalence of HIV-1 transmission through heterosexual contacts and the growing number of immigrants from non-Western countries, where non-B subtypes and recombinant forms are prevalent, suggest the possible emergence in Italy of a new epidemic wave of HIV-1 non-B subtypes as well as recombinant forms. Methods: The distribution of HIV-1 subtypes has been evaluated in 63 seropositive individuals residing in Italy, most of whom were infected through a sexual route during the last 5 years. A modified heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA) strategy, reverse HMA (rHMA), has been developed in our laboratory, allowing rapid identification of divergent-from-B-subtype isolates, which have been subsequently characterized by detailed molecular and phylogenetic analyses. Results: Five samples show, on rHMA, an electrophoretic pattern compatible with a non-B subtype classification. Their phylogenetic analysis, performed on both env and gag regions, confirms the rHMA subtyping prediction, given that 3 samples fall into the "A-family" subtype and 2 into the G subtype. The 5 non-B-subtype HIV-1 isolates have been identified among 23 variants (prevalence, 21.74%) isolated during the 2000 to 2001 period in heterosexuals. In parallel, B-subtype isolates show high levels of intrasubtype nucleotide divergence, compatible with a constant HIV-1 molecular diversification. Conclusion: The Italian HIV-1 epidemic is still mostly attributable to the B subtype, which shows an increasing nucleotide heterogeneity. Heterosexual transmission and the interracial blending, however, are slowly introducing novel HIV-1 subtypes, and the data indicate that rHMA represents a powerful tool for HIV-1 biomolecular screening in epidemics characterized by a mono-/dual-subtype predominance.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 1 2004|
- Non-B HIV-1 subtypes
- Reverse heteroduplex mobility assay
- Sexual transmission
ASJC Scopus subject areas