HIV Transmission Dynamics Among Foreign-Born Persons in the United States

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In the United States (US), foreign-born persons are disproportionately affected by HIV and differ epidemiologically from US-born persons with diagnosed HIV infection. Understanding HIV transmission dynamics among foreign-born persons is important to guide HIV prevention efforts for these populations. We conducted molecular transmission network analysis to describe HIV transmission dynamics among foreign-born persons with diagnosed HIV.


Using HIV-1 polymerase nucleotide sequences reported to the US National HIV Surveillance System for persons with diagnosed HIV infection during 2001–2013, we constructed a genetic distance-based transmission network using HIV-TRACE and examined the birth region of potential transmission partners in this network.


Of 77,686 people, 12,064 (16%) were foreign born. Overall, 28% of foreign-born persons linked to at least one other person in the transmission network. Of potential transmission partners, 62% were born in the United States, 31% were born in the same region as the foreign-born person, and 7% were born in another region of the world. Most transmission partners of male foreign-born persons (63%) were born in the United States, whereas most transmission partners of female foreign-borns (57%) were born in their same world region.


These finding suggests that a majority of HIV infections among foreign-born persons in our network occurred after immigrating to the United States. Efforts to prevent HIV infection among foreign-born persons in the United States should include information of the transmission networks in which these individuals acquire or transmit HIV to develop more targeted HIV prevention interventions.

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