Surprisingly High Prevalence of Subtype C and Specific HIV-1 Subtype/CRF Distribution in Men Having Sex With Men in Senegal

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Background:Recent reports showed the high vulnerability for HIV infection of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa. Here, we report the HIV-1 variants that circulate among MSM in Senegal.Methods:HIV-1 subtype/circulating recombinant form (CRF) was determined in an 1800-base pair fragment of pol for 70 HIV-1-positive samples from MSM. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using the neighbor-joining method with CLUSTALX. Similarity and bootstrap plots were then done for recombination analysis. The maximum likelihood approach was used for the identification of transmission clusters.Results:Sixty-seven samples (95%) were from Senegalese MSM, 90% unmarried with a median age of 30 years. Fifty-five MSM had regular male partners, but 39 of 70 had also a regular female partner. The overall subtype/CRF distribution was as follows: 28 C (40%), 17 CRF02_AG (24.3%), 13 B (18.6%), 6 G (8.6%), 3 CRF09_cpx (4.3%), and 3 (4.3%) unique recombinants. In addition, 47 sequences (67.15%) were segregated into 15 transmission clusters.Conclusions:These variants circulate also among the general population or female sex workers, but the proportions are significantly different. Despite the massive stigma, the majority (80%) of MSM recognized having sex with women and could serve as a bridge for intermixing of HIV-1 variants between high-risk men and low-risk women.

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