Blessing Okonko

H3Africa PI: Prof. Ogbonnaya Ogbu

Institution: Ebonyi State University

Project Affiliation:


Introduction/Background: The increasing prevalence of HIV-1 subtypes could have implications not only for the development of resistance but also for the diagnosis and management of HIV. Limited studies have been done on this topic in Nigeria; this study will add to the voices on the ground to give a better view of the molecular epidemiology of DRMs in Nigeria.
Objectives: Owing to an ongoing need to closely monitor the emergence of HIV-1 DRMs in the country, HIV-1 pol genes in 200 HIV-infected Nigerians in Rivers State were analysed.
Methodology: HIV-1 pol sequences were generated using the RT-PCR strategy. Phylogenetic analyses were performed using MEGA 5.2. Drug-resistance mutations (DRMs) were evaluated using the Stanford drug-resistance database.
Results/Conclusions: Results showed that 128 (64.0%) were females and 72(36.0%) were males. The majority were married (63.0%), had secondary education (47.0%) and were Christian (86.0%). The subjects were between the age range of 19-67 years (average: 45.4 years). For the DRMs, M184V and T215Y (3.2% each) were the most commonly occurring NRTIs DRMs, while K103N (13.0%) was the most commonly occurring NNRTIs DRMs. From the results, the study indicates a complex HIV-1 pol diversity pattern in Rivers State. The study also highlighted five DRMs (K103N, M184V, T215Y, V179I and V90I) occurring in HIV-1 infected individuals in Rivers State, which were noted to differ considerably amid diverse non-B West African variants. Consequently, these findings support previous research on circulating DRMs in Nigeria, a country with rising genetic diversity. In this research, existence of L210*, a unique drug-resistance mutation in the reverse transcriptase gene, was identified. The first to be reported among patients with HIV in Rivers State, Nigeria. T215Y mutation was discovered among circulating recombinant forms and unique recombinant forms, the first to be reported in Rivers State, and it’s linked to intermediate/high-level resistance to AZT and d4T, low-level resistance to ddI, ABC and TDF.
Next Steps: To track the emerging drug-resistant variations and analyse the possible implications on ART programs in Nigeria. Tracking DRM patterns across HIV-infected individuals would facilitate the creation of appropriate preventive and control policies in Nigeria.

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