All subtypes of HIV-1 have been identified in Africa. The envelope glycoprotein of the HIV-1 is the most variable region of the virus, with the third variable region, including the V3 loop, a major target of vaccine research. This paper reports the identification of the HIV-1 subtypes present in 14 viral strains, isolated between 1984 and 1992 in South Africa. HIV-1 strains were isolated routinely at Tygerberg hospital in the Western Cape region, with genomic DNA isolated from virus-infected cultures. After presenting the distance calculations and describing the tree constructions and bootstrap analysis, the authors emphasize the need for ongoing molecular epidemiological analysis of HIV-1 subtypes to track the current epidemic in South Africa. More rapid methods will facilitate subtyping to monitor the circulation and spread of HIV-1 subpopulations in the country.
This article was co-written by Prof Janse van Rensburg before she joined the University of Pretoria.