More than 20.8 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, with southern Africa the worst affected area and accounting for one of the fastest growing AIDS epidemics worldwide. Samples from 81 patients, including 25 from KwaZulu-Natal, 26 from Gauteng, 5 from Mpumalanga, and 25 from Western Cape Province, were serotyped using a competitive V3 peptide enzyme immunoassay (cPEIA). Viral RNA was
also isolated from serum and the V3 region amplified by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) to obtain a 240-bp product for direct sequencing of 29 samples. CLUSTAL W was used to make multiple
sequence alignments. Distance calculation, tree construction methods, and bootstrap analysis were done using TREECON. Subtype C-like V3 loop sequences predominate in all provinces tested in South Africa. Discordant sero- and genotype results were observed in one patient only. The correlation between sero- and genotyping
was 96% (24 of 25) in KwaZulu-Natal and 100% in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. In Western Cape
Province 18% of patients were identified as sero/genotype B and 82% as sero/genotype C. Our data show that results of the second-generation V3 cPEIA correlated well with V3 sequencing and would be a rapid and affordable screening test to monitor the explosive southern African HIV-1 epidemic.
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