During 1995-1996, 1,209 HIV-1-negative injection drug users (IDUs) attending methadone treatment clinics operated by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in Bangkok, Thailand, were enrolled in a prospective cohort study. Through 1998, 133 of these IDUs had seroconverted to HIV-1; 130 of these seroconverters were included in this study. HIV-1 CRF01_AE and subtype B strains accounted for 79% and 21% of the incident infections, respectively. To examine phylogenetic relationships among these incident HIV-1 strains, we used several phylogenetic inference methodologies to analyze the env (C2-V4) sequences in blood samples collected soon after seroconversion. These analyses consistently revealed eight phylogenetic clusters comprising 21 incident strains (bootstrap method, >80%; six CRF01_AE and two subtype B clusters). Two factors were found to be associated with the eight clusters. The first factor was temporal: seven of the eight clusters comprised 17 sequences from IDUs whose estimated dates of seroconversion were within a period of high incidence from July 1996 through January 1997. The second factor was a possible geographic association: four clusters were observed among IDUs who had attended the same methadone treatment clinics. These phylogenetic clusters likely represent subgroups within larger HIV transmission networks among IDUs in Bangkok. Despite prevention efforts, the incidence of HIV-1 infection among the Bangkok IDU population continues to be high. A better understanding of transmission networks and factors associated with such networks can help guide prevention efforts.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Shambavi Subbarao, PhD, Division of AIDS/STD/TB Laboratory Research, Mailstop G-19, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333; e-mail: Ssubbarao@cdc.gov
Manuscript received October 18, 2001; accepted February 20, 2002.
© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.