- Background One of the greatest challenges to develop an efficacious HIV vaccine is the enormous diversity of HIV-1. To tackle this problem, T cells based vaccine approaches have come up with two main camps: the mosaic immunogen camp: increasing the breadth of vaccine-induced responses, and the conserved immunogen camp: targeting vaccineinduced T-cell responses only to highly conserved viral regions. While both approaches are theoretically sound, there is no current data suggesting that either approach will be successful in inducing T cells with superior antiviral efficacy. Here we analyzed T cell responses elicited during early HIV-1 infection, to address the question whether CS of targeted epitopes and breadth of T cell responses play an important role in viral control. Methods Using IFN-g ELISpot, we comprehensively mapped T cell epitope specificities recognized by 24 ART-naive individuals during early infection. We identified CS of targeted epitopes, where the CS is defined as the proportion of random HIV-1 group M amino acid sequences in the LANL database that include the epitope. We used a prediction model to impute the viral load (VL) set-point using the first available VL as a predictor for subjects lacking VL set-point. We further evaluated the association between the CS of the targeted epitopes and breadth of T cell responses to the individuals’ VL set-point.