Many but small HIV-1 non-B transmission chains in the Netherlands.
Bezemer D., Blenkinsop A., Hall M., van Sighem A., Cornelissen M., Wessels E., van Kampen J., van de Laar T., Reiss P., Fraser C., Ratmann O.
ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to investigate introductions and spread of different HIV-1 subtypes in the Netherlands.DesignWe identified distinct HIV-1 transmission chains in the Netherlands within the global epidemic context through viral phylogenetic analysis of partial HIV-1 polymerase sequences from individuals enrolled in the ATHENA national HIV cohort of all persons in care since 1996, and publicly available international background sequences.MethodsViral lineages circulating in the Netherlands were identified through maximum parsimony phylogeographic analysis. The proportion of HIV-1 infections acquired in-country among heterosexuals and MSM was estimated from phylogenetically observed, national transmission chains using a branching process model that accounts for incomplete sampling.ResultsAs of 1 January 2019, 2589 (24%) of 10 971 (41%) HIV-1 sequenced individuals in ATHENA had non-B subtypes (A1, C, D, F, G) or circulating recombinant forms (CRF01AE, CRF02AG, CRF06-cpx). The 1588 heterosexuals were in 1224, and 536 MSM in 270 phylogenetically observed transmission chains. After adjustments for incomplete sampling, most heterosexual (75%) and MSM (76%) transmission chains were estimated to include only the individual introducing the virus (size = 1). Onward transmission occurred mostly in chains size 2-5 amongst heterosexuals (62%) and in chains size at least 10 amongst MSM (64%). Considering some chains originated in-country from other risk-groups, 40% (95% confidence interval: 36-44) of non-B-infected heterosexuals and 62% (95% confidence interval: 49-73) of MSM-acquired infection in-country.ConclusionAlthough most HIV-1 non-B introductions showed no or very little onward transmission, a considerable proportion of non-B infections amongst both heterosexuals and MSM in the Netherlands have been acquired in-country.