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AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses

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The U.S. military represents a unique population within the human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) pandemic. The last comprehensive study of HIV-1 in members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (Sea Services) was completed in 2000, before large-scale combat operations were taking place. Here, we present molecular characterization of HIV-1 from 40 Sea Services personnel who were identified during their seroconversion window and initially classified as HIV-1 negative during screening. Protease/reverse transcriptase (pro/rt) and envelope (env) sequences were obtained from each member of the cohort. Phylogenetic analyses were carried out on these regions to determine relatedness within the cohort and calculate the most recent common ancestor for the related sequences. We identified 39 individuals infected with subtype B and one infected with CRF01_AE. Comparison of the pairwise genetic distance of Sea Service sequences and reference sequences in the env and pro/rt regions showed that five samples were part of molecular clusters, a group of two and a group of three, confirmed by single genome amplification. Real-time molecular monitoring of new HIV-1 acquisitions in the Sea Services may have a role in facilitating public health interventions at sites where related HIV-1 infections are identified.



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