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J Virol. 2010 Jun;84(12):6241-7. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00077-10. Epub 2010 Apr 7.

Wide variation in the multiplicity of HIV-1 infection among injection drug users.

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  • 1University of Alabama at Birmingham, 720 South 20th Street, 816 KAUL Building, Birmingham, AL 35294-0024, USA.


Recent studies indicate that sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) generally results from productive infection by only one virus, a finding attributable to the mucosal barrier. Surprisingly, a recent study of injection drug users (IDUs) from St. Petersburg, Russia, also found most subjects to be acutely infected by a single virus. Here, we show by single-genome amplification and sequencing in a different IDU cohort that 60% of IDU subjects were infected by more than one virus, including one subject who was acutely infected by at least 16 viruses. Multivariant transmission was more common in IDUs than in heterosexuals (60% versus 19%; odds ratio, 6.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37 to 31.27; P = 0.008). These findings highlight the diversity in HIV-1 infection risks among different IDU cohorts and the challenges faced by vaccines in protecting against this mode of infection.

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