Molecular data will help identify HIV transmission networks
Using molecular data to supplement information from surveys conducted by epidemiologists to identify individuals at risk of transmitting HIV through sexual contact or using a non-sterile instrument can help establish the spread of the virus and prevent new infections in low-income countries or regions. HIV incidence, suggested researchers who recently published an article in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Surveys conducted by public health officials during which people diagnosed with HIV identify their sexual partners or medical device (needle) sharing partners are used to determine HIV transmission networks, in order to prioritize HIV prevention ", Commented on the findings of the group, Dr. Catarina M. Grande from the Wisconsin Department of Health.
"HIV sequence data obtained as a result of drug resistance testing can be used to understand the characteristics of molecular clusters and groups of similar sequences to assess whether or not the partners named are associated with transmission of the virus."
As part of the study, Grande and her colleagues found that while molecular data were obtained and analyzed in states with a higher incidence of HIV, only a few of the US regions with lower infection coverage (for example, Wisconsin) carried out such work. According to the report, in 2016, Wisconsin reported 4.6 HIV diagnoses per 100,000 people in the age group over 13 years old.
In her work aimed at identifying molecular clusters and describing the demographic characteristics and risk levels of HIV transmission for people whose sequences were genetically similar, Dr. Grande used virus sequence indicators obtained during the analysis of tests (polls). Specialists assessed the coincidence between the molecular bonds and the data that were reported during the interview.
According to the results, “the characteristics of molecular clusters in Wisconsin reflected data from [areas] with a large number of HIV diagnoses, especially in that most molecular bonds were observed among people of the same race [...] of the same transmission risk [...] and the same age group. "
The report notes that the coincidence of partners and molecular bonds called respondents often coincided: more than a third of them were likely “members of the HIV transmission network”.
“Analyzing HIV sequence data is a useful tool for describing non-obvious patterns of transmission. [These results can help achieve more if] they are used in conjunction with traditional surveys, even in states with a lower incidence of HIV, ”the researchers write.
“Despite the relatively low coincidence of indicators of molecular data and respondents' information about partners, the results of surveys are still important for identifying people at high risk of HIV infection, identifying undiagnosed infections and providing them with the necessary medical care and support,” the report’s authors commented.
“The combination of surveys and molecular sequence data should be a powerful tool for understanding the logic of building HIV transmission networks and identifying measures to reduce infection and improve health outcomes,” scientists say.