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J Infect Dis. 2010 May 15;201(10):1488-97. doi: 10.1086/651951.

Molecular epidemiology reveals long-term changes in HIV type 1 subtype B transmission in Switzerland.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



Sequence data from resistance testing offer unique opportunities to characterize the structure of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection epidemics.


We analyzed a representative set of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B pol sequences from 5700 patients enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. We pooled these sequences with the same number of sequences from foreign epidemics, inferred a phylogeny, and identified Swiss transmission clusters as clades having a minimal size of 10 and containing >or=80% Swiss sequences.


More than one-half of Swiss patients were included within 60 transmission clusters. Most transmission clusters were significantly dominated by specific transmission routes, which were used to identify the following patient groups: men having sex with men (MSM) (38 transmission clusters; average cluster size, 29 patients) or patients acquiring HIV through heterosexual contact (HETs) and injection drug users (IDUs) (12 transmission clusters; average cluster size, 144 patients). Interestingly, there were no transmission clusters dominated by sequences from HETs only. Although 44% of all HETs who were infected between 1983 and 1986 clustered with injection drug users, this percentage decreased to 18% for 2003-2006 (P<.001), indicating a diminishing role of injection drug users in transmission among HETs over time.


Our analysis suggests (1) the absence of a self-sustaining epidemic of HIV-1 subtype B in HETs in Switzerland and (2) a temporally decreasing clustering of HIV infections in HETs and IDUs.

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