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Hiv in Africa
Jan 17, 2000

Hello Dr Feinberg

I asked you before about the two maingroups HIV1 and HIV2 and you replied that there is some variants that would fail a test. You also said that they are common in developing countries. I have worked in Africa quite some time now and I was tested negative for HIV1 and HIV2 about 2 weeks ago.

The doctors knew that I was working in Africa and I guess that they performed the correct tests knowing this.

From what I know HIV1 is common in the States and in Europe and HIV2 is common in Africa.

My question is: How do you perform a HIV-test on one of these strains that doesn´t fall under the two main groups HIV1 and HIV2? Isn´t it so that all HIV-virus fall under one of these groups?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

HIV-2 mostly occurs in west Africa, and there are tests available to detect HIV-2. HIV-1 is divided into major (M) and outlier (O) groups. There are variants of HIV-1 group M and the tests designed for use in developed world target the variant ("clade B") that is the dominant type found in the US and Europe. Other clades found in the developing world and some O strains may not be detected by the routine tests used in the US. Non-clade B variants can be detected with some viral load assays. If you think you had high-risk exposures to HIV-1 (sex or blood trnasfusion in Africa), your doctor can consult the CDC about further testing.

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