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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025956. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Origin and dynamics of HIV-1 subtype C infection in India.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.



To investigate the geographical origin and evolution dynamics of HIV-1 subtype C infection in India.


Ninety HIV-1 subtype C env gp120 subtype C sequences from India were compared with 312 env gp120 reference subtype C sequences from 27 different countries obtained from Los Alamos HIV database. All the HIV-1 subtype C env gp120 sequences from India were used for the geographical origin analysis and 61 subtype C env gp120 sequences with known sampling year (from 1991 to 2008) were employed to determine the origin of HIV infection in India.


Phylogenetic analysis of HIV-1 env sequences was used to investigate the geographical origin and tMRCA of Indian HIV-1 subtype C. Evolutionary parameters including origin date and demographic growth patterns of Indian subtype C were estimated using a Bayesian coalescent-based approach under relaxed molecular clock models.


The majority of the analyzed Indian and South African HIV-1 subtype C sequences formed a single monophyletic cluster. The most recent common ancestor date was calculated to be 1975.56 (95% HPD, 1968.78-1981.52). Reconstruction of the effective population size revealed three phases of epidemic growth: an initial slow growth, followed by exponential growth, and then a plateau phase approaching present time. Stabilization of the epidemic growth phase correlated with the foundation of National AIDS Control Organization in India.


Indian subtype C originated from a single South African lineage in the middle of 1970s. The current study emphasizes not only the utility of HIV-1 sequence data for epidemiological studies but more notably highlights the effectiveness of community or government intervention strategies in controlling the trend of the epidemic.

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