Future of Phylogeny in HIV Prevention

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The success of the HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 trial has led to revisions in HIV-1 treatment guidelines. Antiretroviral therapy may reduce the risk of HIV-1 transmissions at the population level. The design of successful treatment as prevention interventions will be predicated on a comprehensive understanding of the spatial, temporal, and biological dynamics of heterosexual men who have sex with men and intravenous drug user epidemics. Viral phylogenetics can capture the underlying structure of transmission networks based on the genetic interrelatedness of viral sequences and cluster networks that could not be otherwise identified. This article describes the phylogenetic expansion of the Montreal men who have sex with men epidemic over the last decade. High rates of coclustering of primary infections are associated with 1 infection leading to 13 onward transmissions. Phylogeny substantiates the role of primary and recent stage infection in transmission dynamics, underlying the importance of timely diagnosis and immediate antiretroviral therapy initiation to avert transmission cascades.

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