Haemophilic patients exposed to unsterilized clotting factor concentrates prior to 1985 have become infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). We have studied the sequence evolution of the 5'UTR and a region of NS4 over 12 years in one human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive haemophilic patient and 14 years for one HIV negative haemophilic patient. One sample each year from the date of HCV infection to 1994 was analysed for genotype, virus load and nucleotide sequence of the two genetic loci. Both patients were infected with HCV genotype 1 throughout the study period. The virus load profiles were similar except that the profile for the HIV infected patient was displaced 4 years earlier relative to the other patient. Mean divergence of the quasispecies at both the 5'UTR and NS4 loci was higher in the HIV coinfected patient. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that evolution of the 5'UTR was host independent, whereas the NS4 region containing a CD8 restricted CTL epitope evolved in a host specific fashion.


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