Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) seroprevalence and characterization of a distinct HIV-2 genetic subtype from the natural range of simian immunodeficiency virus-infected sooty mangabeys

Zhiwei Chen, Amara Luckay, Donald L. Sodora, Paul Telfer, Patricia Reed, Agegnehu Gettie, James M. Kanu, Ramses F. Sadek, Jo Ann Yee, David D. Ho, Linqi Zhang, Preston A. Marx

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166 Scopus citations


The extent of zoonotic infections in rural Sierra Leone, where both feral and pet sooty mangabeys harbor divergent members of the human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2)-sooty mangabey simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVsm) family, was tested in blood samples collected from 9,309 human subjects in 1993. Using HIV-1- and HIV-2-specific enzyme immunoassays and confirmatory Western blot analysis to test for antibodies to SIVsm-related leotiviruses, we found only nine subjects (0.096%) who tested positive for HIV: seven tested positive for HIV-1 and two tested positive for HIV-2. Compared with other rural West African communities, Sierra Leone displayed the lowest seroprevalence (0.021%) of HIV-2 infection yet reported, much lower than the previously reported seroprevalence in SIVsm-infected fetal and household pet sooty mangabeys. Heteroduplex analysis demonstrated that two of the newly found HIV-1 strains belonged to subtype A, the most common HIV-1 subtype in Africa, but this is the first report of subtype A in Sierra Leone. The two HIV-2-infected individuals harbored two distinct HIV-2 strains, designated 93SL1 and 93SL2. Phytogenetic analysis indicated that HIV-2 93SL1 is a member of HIV-2 subtype A, the first strain of this HIV-2 subtype found in Sierra Leone. In contrast, HIV-2 93SL2 belongs to none of the five previously characterized HIV-2 subtypes (A to E) but is a new subtype, herein designated F, having the most divergent transmembrane sequences yet reported for HIV-2. The fact that both of the two most divergent HIV-2 subtypes known, E and F, are rare and found as single occurrences in persons from Sierra Leone may be related to the fact that this small region of West Africa also contains free-living and household pet sooty mangabeys with highly divergent variants of SIVsm. This finding provides support for the hypotheses that new HIV-2 subtypes result from independent cross-species transmission of SIVsm to the human population and that these single-occurrence transmission events had not spread widely into the population by 1993.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3953-3960
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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