Recent studies showed the importance of CRF02_AG in West Africa, although the clinical relevance of these recombinant forms of HIV remains unknown. The present study aimed at determining the molecular diversity of HIV in Ghana and investigating the possible epidemiologic advantage of recombinant HIV-1. Plasma samples collected in 1999-2002 from two populations of HIV infected individuals (144 asymptomatic candidate blood donors and 169 AIDS patients) were studied and 249 of them were molecularly characterised in gag, pol, and env regions. Five molecular groups were identified: strains clustering with CRF02_AG in all regions (147/249 or 59%), recombinant strains clustering with CRF02_AG in one or two regions (50/249 or 20%), other subtypes, pure or recombinant, but not involving CRF02_AG (37/249 or 15%), HIV-2 (11/249 or 4.5%), and double infections (4/249 or 1.5%). There was no significant difference in the distribution of HIV-1 recombinant strains according to clinical presentation. No evidence of a significant increase in CRF02_AG prevalence between 1999 and 2002 was found. Irrespective of clinical condition, CRF02_AG is the predominant molecular form of HIV-1 in Kumasi, Ghana.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.