The role of phylogenetics in discerning HIV-1 mixing among vulnerable populations and geographic regions in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review


To reduce global HIV-1 incidence, there is a need to understand and disentangle HIV-1 transmission dynamics and to determine the geographic areas and populations that act as hubs or drivers of HIV-1 spread. In Sub-Saharan Africa (sSA), the region with the highest HIV-1 burden, information about such transmission dynamics is sparse. Phylogenetic inference is a powerful method for the study of HIV-1 transmission networks and source attribution. In this review, we assessed available phylogenetic data on mixing between HIV-1 hotspots (geographic areas and populations with high HIV-1 incidence and prevalence) and areas or populations with lower HIV-1 burden in sSA. We searched PubMed and identified and reviewed 64 studies on HIV-1 transmission dynamics within and between risk groups and geographic locations in sSA (published 1995–2021). We describe HIV-1 transmission from both a geographic and a risk group perspective in sSA. Finally, we discuss the challenges facing phylogenetic inference in mixed epidemics in sSA and offer our perspectives and potential solutions to the identified challenges.


Nduva GM, Nazziwa J, Hassan AS, Sanders EJ, Esbjörnsson J




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • Other


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