Objectives: In April 2004, 13 susceptible women were exposed to a single acutely HIV-1-infected man while employed to perform various sex acts for the production of adult films; three women were subsequently found to have acquired HIV infection (23% attack rate). As part of the investigation of this infection cluster, we evaluated whether viral strains collected from infected individuals were significantly related.
Methods: We determined nucleotide sequences from the C2V3C3 and gp41 region of env and the p17 region of gag in viruses from the three infected individuals from whom specimens were available. We then compared these sequences phylogenetically to comparable sequences from available reference strains. Genotypic and phenotypic antiretroviral drug resistance was determined for plasma virus from the male index case and one female contact at a separate commercial laboratory.
Results: The env and gag sequences of the HIV strains from the male index case and two of the infected women were 100% similar. Genotyping of the male index case's virus identified 12 mutations, which represented known naturally occurring polymorphisms in the subtype B consensus sequence that are not associated with antiretroviral drug resistance. Genotyping of the virus from the female contact identified 10 mutations, all of which were shared by the virus from the male index case. Phenotyping demonstrated that both viruses were susceptible to all antiretroviral drugs tested.
Conclusion: Molecular and virological data strongly support the epidemiological conclusion that these women were infected with an identical strain of HIV through occupational exposure to an individual with an acute HIV infection.