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African HIV subtypes identified in Minnesota population

Public health researchers in Minnesota recently identified 83 persons infected with subtypes of HIV-1 that are not common in the United States, according to a report published in the June 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Viral subtype identification may be important because subtypes may differ in terms of the efficacy of potential vaccines, diagnostic testing for HIV infection, and monitoring of the health of HIV-infected patients. The report, by Tracy L. Sides, MPH, and colleagues of the Minnesota Department of Health and the HIV Program at Hennepin County Medical Center, emphasizes the need for better surveillance of HIV-1 subtypes to determine their prevalence.

For the first two decades of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, HIV-1 subtype B has been the predominant isolate throughout the country. In recent years, non-B HIV-1 subtypes have been spreading in parts of Europe. As Sides and colleagues explained, however, the prevalence of subtype B and other subtypes in the United States is not known, because subtype testing is not conducted with routine HIV/AIDS surveillance.

In 2003, the Minnesota Department of Health piloted HIV-1 subtyping with routine surveillance to describe and monitor non-B-subtype HIV-1 isolates. In Minnesota, African-born persons make up less than one percent of the population, but in 2002 accounted for 21 percent of the state's new cases of HIV infection. Accordingly, Sides and colleagues conducted targeted surveillance of 98 African-born HIV-infected patients to determine the existence and variety of HIV-1 subtypes. They also conducted surveillance on 28 non-African patients to monitor the introduction of non-B subtypes into Minnesota.

All of those infected with non-B subtypes were African immigrants attending health clinics in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Of the 98 African-born HIV-1-infected patients, 87 were successfully subtyped and 95 percent of these were infecte
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Contact: Steve Baragona
sbaragona@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
31-May-2005


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