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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 Unpublished data was collected through a global survey.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. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO [CRD42017067164].

Original publication




Journal article


Front public health

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CRF, HIV, URF, key populations, molecular epidemiology, recombinant, Humans, Male, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Homosexuality, Male, Sexual and Gender Minorities, Substance Abuse, Intravenous