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HIV-1 transmission networks across Cyprus (2010-2012)

A molecular epidemiology study of HIV-1 infection was conducted in one hundred diagnosed and untreated HIV-1-infected patients in Cyprus between 2010 and 2012, representing 65.4% of all the reported HIV-1 infections in Cyprus in this three-year period, using a previously defined enrolment strategy. Eighty-two patients were newly diagnosed (genotypic drug resistance testing within six months from diagnosis), and eighteen patients were HIV-1 diagnosed for a longer period or the diagnosis date was unknown. Phylogenetic trees of the pol sequences obtained in this study with reference sequences indicated that subtypes B and A1 were the most common subtypes present and accounted for 41.0 and 19.0% respectively, followed by subtype C (7.0%), F1 (8.0%), CRF02_AG (4.0%), A2 (2.0%), other circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) (7.0%) and unknown recombinant forms (URFs) (12%). Most of the newly-diagnosed study subjects were Cypriots (63%), males (78%) with median age 39 (Interquartile Range, IQR 33-48) reporting having sex with other men (MSM) (51%). A high rate of clustered transmission of subtype B drug-sensitive strains to reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors was observed among MSM, twenty-eight out of forty-one MSM study subjects (68.0%) infected were implicated in five transmission clusters, two of which are sub-subtype A1 and three of which are subtype B strains. The two largest MSM subtype B clusters included nine and eight Cypriot men, respectively, living in all major cities in Cyprus. There were only three newly diagnosed patients with transmitted drug resistant HIV-1 strains, one study subject from the United Kingdom infected with subtype B strain and one from Romania with sub-subtype A2 strain, both with PI drug resistance mutation M46L and one from Greece with sub-subtype A1 with non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) drug resistance mutation K103N.

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