HIV-1 diversity in an antiretroviral treatment naïve cohort from Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Msimanga, Patrick Wela ; Vardas, Efthyia ; Engelbrecht, Susan (2015-02)

CITATION: Msimanga, P.W., Vardas, E. & Engelbrecht, S. 2015. HIV-1 diversity in an antiretroviral treatment naïve cohort from Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Virology Journal, 12:24, doi:10.1186/s12985-015-0244-1.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background South Africa has a generalized and explosive HIV/AIDS epidemic with the largest number of people infected with HIV-1 in the world. Molecular investigations of HIV-1 diversity can help enhance interventions to contain and combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, many studies of HIV-1 diversity in South Africa tend to be limited to the major metropolitan centers and their surrounding provinces. Hardly any studies of HIV diversity have been undertaken in Mpumalanga Province, and this study sought to investigate the HIV-1 diversity in this province, as well as establish the occurrence and extent of transmitted antiretroviral drug resistance mutations. Methods HIV-1 gag p24, pol p10 and p66/p51, pol p31 and env gp41 gene fragments from 43 participants were amplified and sequenced. Quality control on the sequences was carried out using the LANL QC online tool. HIV-1 subtype was preliminary assigned using the REGA 3.0 and jpHMM online tools. Subtype for the pol gene fragment was further designated using the SCUEAL online tool. Phylogenetic analysis was inferred using the Maximum Likelihood methods in MEGA version 6. HIV-1 antiretroviral drug resistance mutations were determined using the Stanford database. Results Phylogenetic analysis using Maximum Likelihood methods indicated that all sequences in the study clustered with HIV-1 subtype C. The exception was one putative subtype BC unique recombinant form. Antiretroviral drug resistance mutations K103N and E138A were also detected, indicating possible transmission of anti-retroviral drug resistance mutations. Conclusions The phylogenetic analysis of the HIV sequences revealed that, by 2009, patients in the Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga were predominantly infected with HIV-1 subtype C. However, the generalized, explosive nature of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, in the context of extensive mobility by South Africans who inhabit rural areas, renders the continued molecular monitoring and surveillance of the epidemic imperative.

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