In Thailand, new HIV-1 infections are largely concentrated in certain risk groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM), where annual incidence may be as high as 12% per year. The paucity of information on the molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 in Thai MSM limits progress in understanding the epidemic and developing new prevention methods. We evaluated HIV-1 subtypes in seroincident and seroprevalent HIV-1-infected men enrolled in the Bangkok MSM Cohort Study (BMCS) between 2006 and 2011. We characterized HIV-1 subtype in 231 seroprevalent and 194 seroincident subjects using the multihybridization assay (MHA). Apparent dual infections, recombinant strains, and isolates found to be nontypeable by MHA were further characterized by targeted genomic sequencing. Most subjects were infected with HIV-1 CRF01-AE (82%), followed by infections with recombinants (11%, primarily CRF01-AE/B recombinants), subtype B (5%), and dual infections (2%). More than 11 distinct chimeric patterns were observed among CRF01B-AE/B recombinants, most involving recombination within integrase. A significant increase in the proportion of nontypeable strains was observed among seroincident MSM between 2006 and 2011. CRF01-AE and subtype B were the most and least common infecting strains, respectively. The predominance of CRF01-AE among HIV-1 infections in Thai MSM participating in the BMCS parallels trends observed in Thai heterosexuals and injecting drug users. The presence of complex recombinants and a significant rise in nontypeable strains suggest ongoing changes in the genetic makeup of the HIV-1 epidemic in Thailand, which may pose challenges for HIV-1 prevention efforts and vaccine development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases