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Knowledge of the most dominant T-cell epitopes in the context of the local human leukocyte antigen (HLA) background is a prerequisite for the development of an effective HIV vaccine. In 100 Ethiopian subjects, 16 different HLA-A, 23 HLA-B, and 12 HLA-C specificities were observed. Ninety-four percent of the population carried at least 1 of the 5 most common HLA-A and/or HLA-B specificities. HIV-specific T-cell responses were measured in 48 HIV-infected Ethiopian subjects representing a wide range of ethnicities in Ethiopia using the interferon (IFN)-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot (Elispot) assay and 49 clade C-specific synthetic Gag peptides. Fifty-eight percent of the HIV-positive study subjects showed T-cell responses directed to 1 or more HIV Gag peptides. Most Gag-specific responses were directed against the subset of peptides spanning Gag p24. The breadth of response ranged from 1 to 9 peptides, with most (78%) individuals showing detectable responses to <3 Gag peptides. The magnitude of HIV-specific T-cell responses was not associated with HIV viral load but correlated positively with CD4 T-cell counts. The most frequently targeted Gag peptides overlapped with those previously described for HIV-1 subtype C-infected southern Africans, and therefore can be used in a multiethnic vaccine.

Original publication




Journal article


J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr

Publication Date





389 - 400


Adult, Amino Acid Sequence, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Ethiopia, Female, Gene Products, gag, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Histocompatibility Testing, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Molecular Sequence Data, Peptides