In a population-based study in northern Malawi we investigated HIV-1 subtype C gag and env gene sequences associated with long-term survival. DNA samples were available from 31 individuals surviving between population surveys carried out in the 1980s and 1990s. Most survivors with paired sequences dating from the 1980s and the 1990s had a three codon deletion in the gag p17 region of the sequence retrieved from the sample collected in the 1990s that was not present in the sequence from the same individual dating from the 1980s. This deletion was also not present in any other 1980s sequences from Malawi, but was common in samples collected in Malawi in the 1990s. The deletion is equivalent to the loss of three amino acids in the D helix region of the gag protein, and may be associated with longer survival and onward transmission.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (2006) 22(2) 195-201 [doi:10.1089/aid.2006.22.195]