1887

Abstract

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 subtype C is the most prevalent globally and is thought to have originated in non-human primates in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Although the global dominance of HIV-1 subtype C is well established, a thorough understanding of its evolutionary history and transmission dynamics across various risk populations remains elusive. The current knowledge is insufficient to fully capture the global diversification and dissemination of this subtype.

We for the first time sought to investigate the global evolutionary history and spatiotemporal dynamics of HIV-1 subtype C using a selection of maximum-likelihood-based phylodynamic approaches on a total of 1210 near full-length genomic sequences sampled from 32 countries, collected in 4 continents, with sampling dates between 1986–2019 among various risk groups were analysed.

We subsampled the HIV-1 subtype C genomic datasets based on continent and risk group traits, and performed nucleotide substitution model selection analysis, maximum likelihood (ML) phylogenetic reconstruction, phylogenetic tree topology similarity analysis, temporal signal analysis and traced the timings of viral spread both geographically and by risk group.

Based on the phylodynamic analyses of four datasets (full1210, locrisk626, loc562 and risk393), we inferred the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) in the 1930s and an evolutionary rate of 0.0023 substitutions per site per year. The total number of introduction events of HIV-1 subtype C between continents and between risk groups is estimated to be 71 and 115, respectively. The largest number of introductions occurred from Africa to Europe (=32), from not-recorded to heterosexual (=40) and from heterosexual to not-recorded (=51) risk groups.

Our results emphasize that HIV subtype C has mainly spread from Africa to Europe, likely through heterosexual transmission.

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2024-05-17
2024-06-19
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