Flor Pujol: Hepatitis viruses and HIV among indigenous populations from the Americas

On The December 16, 2019

10h00 - 12h00
26, Place Bellecour - 69002 Lyon
Salle de réunion - Allée A - 1er étage

The aim of this project is an in-depth review of the HBV and HDV variants infecting the Americas and evaluate their pathogenicity in terms of severe presentations of these diseases. In addition, a devastating HIV epidemic affecting Warao Amerindians from the Orinoco Delta will also be described.

Around 250 million persons are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) worldwide, and a significant proportion of them will develop cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Eight human HBV variants or genotypes (A–H) have been described, being HBV genotype F and H the American genotypes. HBV variability seems to play a role in HCC development. Some evidences point towards defining HBV genotype F as prone to develop HCC. An estimated of 15 to 20 million persons infected with HBV are co-infected with hepatitis D virus (HDV), and this co-infection is associated with a more severe disease. High HDV prevalence is found in the Amazon Basin. Eight genotypes of HDV have been identified. Genotype 3 is the most divergent genotype and is found in the Amazon Basin, where severe cases of fulminant hepatitis have been documented. It is not completely clear at present whereas the severe presentation of HDV/HBV co-infection is only due to the particular variant of HDV-3 or the HBV variant is also implicated. Indigenous population from the Americas, also called Amerindians, are the aboriginal people in the Americas. Different lines of evidence support the hypothesis that the first Amerindians came from Asia through the Bering land bridge 30,000–12,000 years ago, from Siberia and Mongolia. A high prevalence of HBV and HDV infection is found in Amerindians, where these infections can be considered a neglected disease, because of the scarceness of effective measures for their prevention. Amerindians populations are originally free of HIV infection, although this virus is progressively penetrating in these communities.

Flor Pujol is full Professor at IVIC, Member of the Venezuelan “Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales” and of the Latin American Academy of Sciences. She is a 2019-2020 Fellow at the Collegium de Lyon.