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Recombination: Multiply infected spleen cells in HIV patientsThe genome of the human immunodeficiency virus is highly prone to recombination, although it is not obvious whether recombinants arise infrequently or whether they are constantly being spawned but escape identification because of the massive and rapid turnover of virus particles. Here we use fluorescence in situ hybridization to estimate the number of proviruses harboured by individual splenocytes from two HIV patients, and determine the extent of recombination by sequencing amplified DNA from these cells. We find an average of three or four proviruses per cell and evidence for huge numbers of recombinants and extensive genetic variation. Although this creates problems for phylogenetic analyses, which ignore recombination effects, the intracellular variation may help to broaden immune recognition.