Molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 infection in immigrant population in northern Italy

Caterina Sagnelli, Caterina Uberti-Foppa, Sabrina Bagaglio, Eleonora Cella, Vittoria Scolamacchia, Hamid Hasson, Stefania Salpietro, Emanuela Messina, Giulia Morsica, Silvia Angeletti, Massimo Ciccozzi, Adriano Lazzarin, Evangelista Sagnelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) is characterised by a vast genetic diversity classified into distinct phylogenetic strains and recombinant forms. We describe the HIV-1 molecular epidemiology and evolution of 129 consecutive HIV-1 positive migrants living in Milan (northern Italy). Polymerase gene sequences of 116 HIV-1 subtype-B positive patients were aligned with HIV-1 reference sequences ( by using MAFFT alignment and edited by using Bioedit software. A maximum likelihood (ML) phylogenetic tree was performed by MEGA7 and was visualised by using FigTree v1.4.3. Of 129 migrants, 35 were born in Europe (28 in Eastern Europe), 70 in the Americas (67 in South America), 15 in Africa and nine in Asia; 76.4% were men who have sex with men (MSM). The serotype HIV-1-B prevailed (89.9%), followed by -C, -F1, -D and -A. Compared with 116 HIV-B patients, the 13 with HIV-non-B showed lower Nadir of CD4+ cell/mmc (P = 0.043), more frequently had sub Saharan origin (38.5 vs. 1.72%, P = 0.0001) and less frequently were MSM (40 vs. 74.5%, P = 0.02). The ML phylogenetic tree of the 116 HIV-1 subtype-B positive patients showed 13 statistically supported nodes (bootstrap > 70%). Most of the sequences included in these nodes have been isolated from male patients from the Americas and the most common risk factor was MSM. The low number of HIV-1 non-B subtype patients did not allow to perform this analysis. These results suggest a shift of HIV-1 prevention projects' focus and a continuous monitoring of HIV-1 molecular epidemiology among entry populations. Prevention efforts based on HIV molecular epidemiology may improve public health surveillance setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e19
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Publication statusPublished - Feb 5 2020


  • HIV-1 subtype B
  • immigrants
  • molecular epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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