HIV-1 genetic transmission networks among men who have sex with men in Kunming, China

Min Chen, Yanling Ma, Huichao Chen, Jie Dai, Lijuan Dong, Chaojun Yang, Youfang Li, Hongbing Luo, Renzhong Zhang, Xiaomei Jin, Li Yang, Ka Loon Allen Cheung, Manhong Jia*, Zhizhong Song

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background Yunnan has the greatest share of reported human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in China. In recent years, HIV prevalence and incidence remained stubbornly high in men who have sex with men (MSM). To follow the dynamics of the HIV-1 epidemic among MSM, HIV-1 genetic characteristics and genetic transmission networks were investigated. Methods Blood samples from 190 newly diagnosed HIV-1 cases among MSM were continuously collected at fixed sites from January 2013 to December 2015 in Kunming City, Yunnan Province. Partial gag, pol and env genes were sequenced and used for phylogenetic and genotypic drug resistance analyses. The genetic characteristics of the predominant HIV-1 strains were analyzed by the Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method. The genetic transmission networks were identified with a genetic distance of 0.03 substitutions/ site and 90% bootstrap support. Results Among the 190 HIV-1 positive MSM reported during 2013–2105, various genotypes were identified, including CRF01_AE (45.3%), CRF07_BC (35.8%), unique recombinant forms (URFs) (11.6%), CRF08_BC (3.2%), CRF55_01B (2.1%), subtype B (1.6%) and CRF59_01B (0.5%). The effective population sizes (EPS) for CRF01_AE and CRF07_BC increased exponentially from approximately 2001–2010 and 2005–2009, respectively. Genetic transmission networks were constructed with 308 pol sequences from MSM diagnosed during 2010–2015. Of the 308 MSM, 109 (35.4%) were identified in 38 distinct clusters. Having multiple male partners was associated with a high probability of identification in the genetic transmission networks. Of the 38 clusters, 27 (71.1%) contained individuals diagnosed in different years. Of the 109 individuals in the networks, 26 (23.9%) had 2 potential transmission partners (2 links). The proportion of MSM with 2 links was higher among those diagnosed from 2010–2012. The constituent ratios of their potential transmission partners by areas showed no significant difference among MSM from Kunming, other cities in Yunnan and other provinces. Additionally, surveillance drug resistance mutations (SDRMs) were identified in 5% of individuals. Conclusion This study revealed the various HIV-a genotypes circulating among MSM in Kunming. MSM with more partners were more easily detected in transmission networks, and early-diagnosed MSM remained active in transmission networks. These findings suggested that the routine interventions should be combined with HIV testing and linkage to care and early antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive MSM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0196548
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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