Gender Differences In HIV-1 Diversity At Time Of Infection

E. Michelle Long1,2, Harold Martin3, Joan Kreiss3, Stephanie M.J. Rainwater1, Ludo Laureys3, Denis J. Jackson3,4, Joel Rakwar4, Kishorchandra Mandaliya5, and Julie Overbaugh1.

1: Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA. 2: Molecular Cellular Biology Program, 3: Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. 4: Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya. 5: Coast Provincial General Hospital, Mombassa, Kenya

For an HIV-1 vaccine to be most effective, it may be important to identify and characterize the viruses that are transmitted, particularly to individuals living in endemic areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa. Several studies have shown that the virus population in the blood from recently infected adults was homogeneous, even when the virus population in the index case was genetically diverse. In contrast to those results with mainly male cohorts in America and Europe, in several cases a heterogeneous virus population has been found early in infection in African women. Thus, we more closely compared the diversity of transmitted HIV-1 in additional Kenyan men and women who became infected through heterosexual contact. We found that 20 out of 32 women were infected by multiple virus variants (63%). In contrast, all of the ten men studied were infected with a single viral species. Moreover, a heterogeneous virus was present in the women before their seroconversion and in most instances, viral variants highly related to those observed at seroconversion were detected in the earlier pre-seroconversion sample. The genetic relatedness of these variants strongly suggests that the complex population was derived from a single index case, indicating that diversity was most likely to be the result of transmission of multiple variants. Our data indicate that there are important differences in the transmitted virus populations in women and men even when cohorts from the same geographic region who are infected with the same subtypes of HIV-1 are compared. Current studies are focused on determining the biological phenotype and coreceptor specificity of viral variants found in these Kenyan women at time of infection.


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