Global associations of key populations with HIV-1 recombinants: A systematic review, global survey, and individual participant data meta-analysis


INTRODUCTION: Global HIV infections due to HIV-1 recombinants are increasing and impede prevention and treatment efforts. Key populations suffer most new HIV infections, but their role in the spread of HIV-1 recombinants is unknown. We conducted a global analysis of the associations between key populations and HIV-1 recombinants. METHODS: We searched PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Global Health for HIV-1 subtyping studies published from 1/1/1990 to 31/12/2015. Unpublished data was collected through a global survey. We included studies with HIV-1 subtyping data of key populations collected during 1990-2015. Key populations assessed were heterosexual people (HET), men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), vertical transmissions (VERT), commercial sex workers (CSW), and transfusion-associated infections (BLOOD). Logistic regression was used to determine associations of key populations with HIV-1 recombinants. Subgroup analyses were performed for circulating recombinant forms (CRFs), unique recombinant forms (URFs), regions, and time periods. RESULTS: Eight hundred and eighty five datasets including 77,284 participants from 83 countries were included. Globally, PWID were associated with the greatest odds of recombinants and CRFs (OR 2.6 [95% CI 2.46–2.74] and 2.99 [2.83–3.16]), compared to HET. CSW were associated with increased odds of recombinants and URFs (1.59 [1.44–1.75] and 3.61 [3.15–4.13]). VERT and BLOOD were associated with decreased odds of recombinants (0.58 [0.54–0.63] and 0.43 [0.33–0.56]). MSM were associated with increased odds of recombinants in 2010–2015 (1.43 [1.35–1.51]). Subgroup analyses supported our main findings. DISCUSSION: As PWID, CSW, and MSM are associated with HIV-1 recombinants, increased preventative measures and HIV-1 molecular surveillance are crucial within these key populations.


Nchinda N, Elangovan R, Yun J, Dickson-Tetteh L, Kirtley S, Hemelaar J




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People who use drugs
    • Sex workers
    • Heterosexual men
    • General HIV+ population


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