Genetic evidence of multiple transmissions of HIV type 1 subtype F within Romania from adult blood donors to children

E. Op de Coul, R. van den Burg, B. Asjö, J. Goudsmit, A. Cupsa, R. Pascu, C. Usein, M. Cornelissen

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We studied the phylogeny of HIV-1 subtype F viruses from children and adults in Romania in order to (1) clarify whether the Romanian subtype F epidemic was caused by one or several virus introductions and (2) gain insight into the route of spread of the HIV-1 subtype F virus among children and adults in Romania. env (V3), gag (p17/half p24), and pol (prot/half RT) sequences were obtained from three districts in Romania: Tirgu Mures (n = 9, children), Craiova (n = 15, children), and Bucharest (n = 13, adults). Of 37 HIV V3 sequences from Romania, 35 belonged to the genetic subtype F in the neighbor-joining tree, whereas 2 sequences from adults clustered with subtypes A and C. Within the subtype F cluster, no bootstrap-supported subclusters were observed according to geographic area in Romania. Two of the adult V3 sequences that clustered with the children were obtained from individuals who tested HIV seropositive in 1989 and 1990, showing that the subtype F virus was present among adults when the HIV epidemic began among children in Romania. The HIV-1 subtype F viruses obtained from children showed a mean pairwise V3 nucleotide distance of 7.9% and maximum distances of between 18 and 19%; both are higher than previously described. The mean V3 distances (overall, synonymous, and nonsynonymous) were significantly higher for adults than for children. One V3 sequence from the Democratic Republic of Congo clustered within the Romanian sequences, suggesting that the subtype F virus in Romania may originate from this area. Our data also suggest that HIV-1 subtype F was present among Romanian adults before it appeared in 1989 among institutionalized children. The juvenile population was most likely infected with the HIV-1 subtype F virus on more than one occasion, presumably through HIV-contaminated blood (products) obtained from adults
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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