The global spread of HIV-1 subtype B epidemic

Gkikas Magiorkinis*, Konstantinos Angelis, Ioannis Mamais, Aris Katzourakis, Angelos Hatzakis, Jan Albert, Glenn Lawyer, Osamah Hamouda, Daniel Struck, Jurgen Vercauteren, Annemarie Wensing, Ivailo Alexiev, Birgitta Åsjö, Claudia Balotta, Perpétua Gomes, Ricardo J. Camacho, Suzie Coughlan, Algirdas Griskevicius, Zehava Grossman, Anders HorbanLeondios G. Kostrikis, Snjezana J. Lepej, Kirsi Liitsola, Marek Linka, Claus Nielsen, Dan Otelea, Roger Paredes, Mario Poljak, Elizabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl, Jean Claude Schmit, Anders Sönnerborg, Danica Staneková, Maja Stanojevic, Dora C. Stylianou, Charles A.B. Boucher, Georgios Nikolopoulos, Tetyana Vasylyeva, Samuel R. Friedman, David van de Vijver, Gioacchino Angarano, Marie Laure Chaix, Andrea de Luca, Klaus Korn, Clive Loveday, Vincent Soriano, Sabine Yerly, Mauricio Zazzi, Anne Mieke Vandamme, Dimitrios Paraskevis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was discovered in the early 1980s when the virus had already established a pandemic. For at least three decades the epidemic in the Western World has been dominated by subtype B infections, as part of a sub-epidemic that traveled from Africa through Haiti to United States. However, the pattern of the subsequent spread still remains poorly understood. Here we analyze a large dataset of globally representative HIV-1 subtype B strains to map their spread around the world over the last 50 years and describe significant spread patterns. We show that subtype B travelled from North America to Western Europe in different occasions, while Central/Eastern Europe remained isolated for the most part of the early epidemic. Looking with more detail in European countries we see that the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland exchanged viral isolates with non-European countries than with European ones. The observed pattern is likely to mirror geopolitical landmarks in the post-World War II era, namely the rise and the fall of the Iron Curtain and the European colonialism. In conclusion, HIV-1 spread through specific migration routes which are consistent with geopolitical factors that affected human activities during the last 50 years, such as migration, tourism and trade. Our findings support the argument that epidemic control policies should be global and incorporate political and socioeconomic factors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)169-179
    Number of pages11
    JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


    • HIV-1
    • Migration
    • Migration pattern
    • Phylogeography
    • Subtype B


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