Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Virus Co-infection in Cameroon: Investigation of the Genetic Diversity and Virulent Circulating Strains
Background: RNA virus infections represent a significant cause of illness and death in vertebrates. Specifically in humans, RNA viruses are responsible for a wide range of acute, chronic, emerging and re-emerging infections. HIV and HCV rank as some of the most severe RNA viruse infections facing Africa.
Methods: To determine genotypes and subtypes of HIV and HCV among co-infected patients in Cameroon, viral RNA was isolated from HIV/HCV co-infected individuals, in Douala, Cameroon. A total of 36 HIV/HCV co-infected isolates (22 from volunteer blood donors and 14 from people living with HIV/AIDS not yet on antiretroviral treatment) were analyzed using molecular biology techniques that involved RT-PCR, gene/TOPO cloning, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics tools for sequence management and analysis. Epidemiological data were examined as well.
Results: Results show that HIV strains isolated belong to the circulating recombinant forms CRF02_AG, whereas HCV isolates from Cameroon belong to genotypes 1, 2, and 4. The corresponding HCV subtypes investigated were 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2c, 2k, and 4a. Subtypes 1a and 1b, most frequently found in developed countries, also circulate in Cameroon. Epidemiologic data show that HIV/HCV co-infected patients are older than HIV
Conclusions: These results indicate that HIV/HCV co-infection represent a significant threat in Cameroon. There is evidence of genetic diversity of HIV and HCV; virulent hepatitis C virus subtypes 1a and 1b circulate in Cameroon. An epidemiological and molecular database on HIV and HCV is necessary for the development of further intervention in Cameroon as an imperative for monitoring disease progression.
Key words: HIV; HCV; Co-infection ; Genotypes ; Virulent.