Serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from eight patients from the Ivory Coast with positive screening test results for retroviral infections were studied by serology (ELISA, Western blot (WB), synthetic peptide test), cell co-culture, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Two HIV-2 infections with indeterminate interpretation on HIV-1 WB were detected, two were clear dual HIV-1/HIV-2 infections, three were ambiguous mixed HIV-1/HIV-2 infections, and one was a triple retroviral infection by HTLV-I, HIV-1 and HIV-2. Four slow/low HIV-1 strains were isolated at the expense of HTLV-1 and HIV-2 strains. The ELISA tests were found to be very sensitive. Indeterminate WB interpretations were frequent (HTLV-I, four; HIV-1, three; HIV-2, two). PCR provided clear evidence of multiple retroviral infections in three cases and enabled interpretation of indeterminate WB samples in three cases. One sample presented a puzzling pattern with positive PCR results for HIV-1 and HIV-2 associated with negative or indeterminate serological results. Thus, our data emphasise the need to analyse serological as well as virological markers to gain better insight on mixed retroviral infections, especially in endemic areas such as West Africa.


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