Molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 non-M variants and HIV-1 M+O dual infections among HIV positive patients in Cameroon

Aurélie Kifack Zetang’s project focusses on the molecular epidemiology of non-M HIV-1 variants and dual M+O HIV-1 infections in HIV-positive patients in Cameroon. HIV-1 is very diverse and this high genetic diversity has an impact on the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of HIV infection, as well as on prevention. Previous studies have demonstrated the great genetic diversity observed in HIV-1/O strains, resulting in: erroneous serological tests due to the wide antigenic variations; therapeutic challenges due to natural resistance to NNRTIs (nevirapine, efavirenz, etc.); inaccurate quantification of viral load with certain commercial kits; and challenges related to the development of an effective vaccine. Faced with this problem, Kifack Zetang’s team are assessing the current frequency, genetic diversity and resistance profile of dual HIV-1 non-M and HIV-1 M+O infections in Cameroon. By hypothesising the following – the frequency of dual infections by HIV-1 non-M and HIV-1 M+O remains stable, as described previously, with a high genetic diversity, and HIV-1 non-M are sensitive to the ARV drugs currently used in Cameroon – the team hopes to demonstrate their veracity/invalidity in the course of Kifack Zetang’s study.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.