Short Communication: Phylogenetic Evidence of HIV-1 Transmission Between Adult and Adolescent Men Who Have Sex with Men.


HIV-1 incidence among youth, especially men who have sex with men (MSM), is increasing in the United States. We aimed to better understand the patterns of adolescent HIV-1 acquisition, to help guide future prevention interventions. We conducted a study combining epidemiologic and HIV-1 pol sequence data from a retrospective cohort of HIV-infected adults and adolescents in Seattle, WA between 2000 and 2013. Adolescents were defined as 13-24 years of age at the time of first HIV-1 care. Maximum-likelihood phylogenetic trees were reconstructed to identify putative viral transmission clusters of two or more individuals, followed by multivariable regression tests of associations between clustering and demographic and clinical parameters. The dataset included 3,102 sequences from 1,953 individuals; 72 putative transmission clusters were identified, representing 168 individuals (8.6%). MSM and MSM/intravenous drug use (IDU) were positively associated with clustering, with aOR 3.18 (95% CI: 1.34-7.55) and 2.59 (95% CI: 1.04-6.49), respectively. African American race was negatively associated with clustering (aOR 0.54 95% CI: 0.32-0.91). Twenty-five clusters contained one adolescent and five clusters contained two adolescents. Other individuals who clustered with adolescents were predominantly male (95%), white (85%), and either MSM (66%) or MSM/IDU (16%), with a greater mean age (34 years vs. 22 years; p < .01). In this Seattle cohort, HIV-1 transmission linkages were identified between white male adolescents and older MSM adults. Interventions aimed at age-discrepant pairs may reduce HIV-1 infections in adolescent males.

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