HIV-1 subtypes and drug resistance mutations among female sex workers varied in different cities and regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo

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PloS one


BACKGROUND: Complex mosaic structures of HIV-1 were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Currently, there is limited information on the circulating HIV-1 strains, the distribution of these strains and antiretroviral (ART) resistant viruses in different regions of the country, and the HIV-1 strains harbored by the high-risk groups like female sex workers (FSW) reported to be the source of recombinant and ART resistant viruses. METHODS: Dried Blood Spots (DBS), collected from 325 infected FSWs in ten cities from 2012 DRC HIV/STI Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey, were tested for HIV-1 genotypes and antiretroviral resistance mutations. Regional segregation of HIV-1 clades was detected using phylogenetics. The significance for differences in HIV-1 subtype and drug resistance mutations were evaluated using Chi-square tests. RESULTS: There were 145 (env) and 93 (pol) sequences analyzed. Based on env sequences, the predominant subtype was A1 (44%), and recombinants as defined pol sequences comprised 35% of the total sample. Paired sequences of pol and env from DRC FSW revealed mosaic recombinant in 54% of the sequences. Distinct geographic distributions of different HIV-1 subtypes and recombinants were observed. Subtype A1 was prevalent (40%) in Goma located in the East and significantly higher than in Mbuji-Mayi (p<0.05) in the South-central region, or in Lubumbashi in the South. Antiretroviral resistance was detected in 21.5% of 93 pol sequences analyzed, with the M184I/V and K103N mutations that confer high-level resistance to NRTI and NNRTI, respectively, being the most frequent mutations. However, the K103N mutant viruses were found only in the East. CONCLUSION: HIV-1 variants found in DRC FSW reflect those reported to circulate in the general population from the corresponding geographical locations. HIV-1 mosaic genetics were readily detected in FSW. Importantly, ART resistance mutations to NNRTI and NRTI were common in the DRC sex workers.



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