Better characterization of human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) in patients with primary infection has important implications for the development of an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) vaccine because vaccine strategies should target viral isolates with the properties of transmitted viruses. In five HIV-1 seroconverters, the viral phenotype was found to be uniformly macrophage-tropic and non-syncytium-inducing. Furthermore, the viruses were genotypically homogeneous within each patient, but a common signature sequence was not discernible among transmitted viruses. In the two cases where the sexual partners were also studied, the sequences of the transmitted viruses matched best with minor variants in the blood of the transmitters. There was also a stronger pressure to conserve sequences in gp120 than in gp41, nef, and p17, suggesting that a selective mechanism is involved in transmission.

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