Recent transmission clustering of HIV-1 C and CRF17-BF strains characterized by NNRTI-related mutations among newly diagnosed men in central Italy

Lavinia Fabeni, Claudia Alteri, Nicoletta Orchi, Caterina Gori, Ada Bertoli, Federica Forbici, Francesco Montella, Alfredo Pennica, Gabriella De Carli, Massimo Giuliani, Fabio Continenza, Carmela Pinnetti, Emanuele Nicastri, Francesca Ceccherini-Silberstein, Claudio Maria Mastroianni, Enrico Girardi, Massimo Andreoni, Andrea Antinori, Maria Mercedes Santoro, Carlo Federico Perno

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Background: Increased evidence of relevant HIV-1 epidemic transmission in European countries is being reported, with an increased circulation of non-B-subtypes. Here, we present two recent HIV-1 non-B transmission clusters characterized by NNRTI-related amino-acidic mutations among newly diagnosed HIV-1 infected men, living in Rome (Central-Italy). Methods: Pol and V3 sequences were available at the time of diagnosis for all individuals. Maximum-Likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic-trees with bootstrap and Bayesian-probability supports defined transmission-clusters. HIV-1 drug-resistance and V3-tropism were also evaluated. Results: Among 534 new HIV-1 non-B cases, diagnosed from 2011 to 2014, in Central-Italy, 35 carried virus gathering in two distinct clusters, including 27 HIV-1 C and 8 CRF17-BF subtypes, respectively. Both clusters were centralized in Rome, and their origin was estimated to have been after 2007. All individuals within both clusters were males and 37.1%of them had been recently-infected. While C-cluster was entirely composed by Italian men-whohavesex-with-men, with a median-age of 34 years (IQR:30-39), individuals in CRF17-BFcluster were older, with a median-age of 51 years (IQR:48-59) and almost all reported sexual-contacts with men and women. All carried R5-tropic viruses, with evidence of atypical or resistance amino-acidic mutations related to NNRTI-drugs (K103Q in C-cluster, and K101E+E138K in CRF17-BF-cluster). Conclusions: These two epidemiological clusters provided evidence of a strong and recent circulation of C and CRF17-BF strains in central Italy, characterized by NNRTI-related mutations among men engaging in high-risk behaviours. These findings underline the role of molecular epidemiology in identifying groups at increased risk of HIV-1 transmission, and in enhancing additional prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0135325
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 13 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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