HIV-1 CRF02-AG accounts for >50% of infected individuals in Cameroon. CRF02-AG prevalence has been increasing both in Africa and Europe, particularly in Italy because of migrations from the sub-Saharan region. This study investigated the molecular epidemiology of CRF02-AG in Cameroon by employing Bayesian phylodynamics and analyzed the relationship between HIV-1 CRF02-AG isolates circulating in Italy and those prevalent in Africa to understand the link between the two epidemics. Among 291 Cameroonian reverse transcriptase sequences analyzed, about 70% clustered within three distinct clades, two of which shared a most recent common ancestor, all related to sequences from Western Africa. The major Cameroonian clades emerged during the mid-1970s and slowly spread during the next 30 years. Little or no geographic structure was detected within these clades. One of the major driving forces of the epidemic was likely the high accessibility between locations in Southern Cameroon contributing to the mobility of the population. The remaining Cameroonian sequences and the new strains isolated from Italian patients were interspersed mainly within West and Central African sequences in the tree, indicating a continuous exchange of CRF02-AG viral strains between Cameroon and other African countries, as well as multiple independent introductions in the Italian population. The evaluation of the spread of CRF02-AG may provide significant insight about the future dynamics of the Italian and European epidemic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases