Genetic diversity is the hallmark of HIV-1 infection. It differs among geographical regions throughout the world. This study was undertaken to identify the predominant HIV-1 subtypes among infected female sex workers (FSWs) in Nigeria. Methods: Two hundred and fifty FSWs from brothels in Ibadan Nigeria were screened for HIV antibody using ELISA. All reactive samples were further tested by the Western Blot Techniques. Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) were separated from the blood samples of each subject. Fragments of HIV Proviral DNA was amplified and genetic subtypes of HIV-1 was determined by direct sequencing of the env and gag genes of the viral genome followed by phylogenetic analysis . Results: The age of the FSWs ranged from 15 to 55 years old (Mean = 25.8years, SD =3.74). Majority were Nigerians while others (1.6 %) were from neighboring West Africa countries. Four ( 1.6% ) of the FSWs were active for less than one year as sex workers, and the mean length of sex work was 2.80 years ( Range = 1.0 – 15.0 years ). Sixty-four (25.6%) of the 250 CSWs were positive for HIV-1 while 7 (2-8%) had dual infections to HIV-1 / HIV-2. Among the 34 HIV-1 strains characterized by sequencing, 19 (55-9%) were subtype G, 9 (26.5%) CRF02_A/G, 3 (8.8%) CRF06_cpx while 1 (2.9%) each were identified as subtype C, CRF01_A/E and CRF09_cpx respectively. Nineteen (55.9%) of the FSWs with subtype G had been active in the sex work for between one to five years. The youngest of the HIV -1 infected FSWs with sexual activity of less than a year had subtype G strain. There is a significant probability that infection with this subtype occurred with a short incubation period (p< 0.05). Conclusion: This study showed a wide range of HIV- 1 subtypes among FSWs in Nigeria. The situation poses serious challenge for the design of HIV vaccine candidate for use in Nigeria.
Keywords: Diverse, HIV, subtypes, Female Sex workers and Vaccine
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