Molecular Epidemiology of HIV-1 Infection in a Small Brazilian County: Usefulness of Envelope and Polymerase Sequences to Epidemiologic Studies

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The AIDS epidemic in Brazil is spreading from the large urban centers to small counties and the innermost parts of the country; however, data on the features of HIV-1 infection in these places are scarce. To study the routes of HIV-1 spread and assess the existence of transmission networks in such a setting, we performed a genetic analysis of viral sequences from the small county of Miracema, Rio de Janeiro State.


HIV-1 envelope and polymerase sequences recovered from 63 adult patients (from a cohort of 78 patients) were phylogenetically analyzed.


A polyphyletic pattern ensued. Six clusters of sequences sharing close genetic relatedness were also recovered from 29 (46%) patients. Envelope and polymerase phylogenies yielded essentially the same results.


The polyphyletic pattern suggests multiple viral introductions in the region. Intracluster cases, including those with no known direct epidemiologic link, probably took part in the same chain of viral transmission. Such a pattern suggests the existence of'sexual networks and the emergence of multiple new infections within a relatively short period, a potential molecular marker of high incidence.

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