For both HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus (HCV), assessing the stringency of the transmission process is a scientific priority. Enumerations of transmitted/founder (TF) viruses have shown a strict transmission bottleneck in sexual transmission of HIV-1 and a wide range in the multiplicity of infection in HCV. Here, we aim to determine the stringency of parenteral transmission for HIV-1 and HCV in people who inject drugs (PWID).Design:
We used molecular sequencing and several complementary analyses to enumerate the TF HIV-1 and HCV variants in a well described cohort of PWID in Xinjiang, China.Methods:
We performed single genome sequencing of HIV-1 env and 5’ half HCV genomes, then applied phylogenetic analysis and validated models of early virus diversification to enumerate TF viruses in 60 PWID. We used multivariate analysis to determine correlates of multivariant transmission (MVT).Results:
We generated 1070 env region sequences from 33 HIV-1 early infected individuals and 773 5’ half region sequences from 27 HCV early infected individuals. We found rates of MVT of 39 and 54%, respectively, for HIV-1 and HCV, with a limited range in the number of TF viruses in both infections. Behavioural characteristics suggested high-risk injection practices and lower risk sexual practices; we did not find an association between any specific behaviours and MVT.Conclusion:
MVT is frequent in parenteral transmission of both HIV-1 and HCV in Xinjiang PWID, indicating a less stringent transmission process than sexual transmission.