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HIV-1 Genetic Diversity

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Past and current genetic forms of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) provide clues as to how the virus has evolved. HIV-1 acquires mutations over time and the virus can also recombine when undergoing replication. Recombination between different HIV-1 subtypes can produce mosaic viral strains ...

Past and current genetic forms of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) provide clues as to how the virus has evolved. HIV-1 acquires mutations over time and the virus can also recombine when undergoing replication. Recombination between different HIV-1 subtypes can produce mosaic viral strains which, when causing epidemic spread, are called circulating recombining forms (CRFs). Mutation and recombination lead to genetic diversification onto which evolutionary selection pressures are exerted by effects on the viral replication, transmission, pathogenesis and the immune response. As a result, HIV-1 subtypes have diversified over time and 90 distinct CRFs have been identified globally so far.

Phylodynamic and phylogeographic studies estimating the spatiotemporal origin of HIV-1 variants at population level establishes the role of transmission networks in contributing to the rise in new HIV-1 infections.

These networks, if left uninterrupted by means of effective intervention strategies, will most likely continue to grow and result in sustained transmission. Understanding the dynamics of growth and dispersal of HIV-1 variants, as well as the cutting edge methods used in such analysis, can be useful to assess the evolution of an epidemic and the impact of public health interventions.
However, the epidemiological and molecular mechanisms which contribute to the emergence of recombinants are incompletely understood. Moreover, a better understanding of the effects of HIV-1 genetic diversity on clinical characteristics such as transmission, pathogenesis and disease progression as well as implication for management such as diagnosis, viral load measurement and treatment, are essential for the containment of the HIV epidemic. Finally, the enormous diversity of the HIV-1 pandemic poses a major challenge to the development of a globally effective HIV vaccine.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
• Molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 recombination.
• Phylodynamic behaviours of emerging HIV-1 CRFs.
• Transmission networks of HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs.
• Phylodynamics of HIV-1 clusters.
• Molecular epidemiology surveillance of HIV-1 among high-risk populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs.
• Phylodynamic and phylogeographic methods for the study of HIV-1 epidemics.
• Global and regional epidemiology of HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs.
• Novel approaches in genetic sequencing and recombination analysis of HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs.
• Development of diagnostic tools for qualitative and quantitative detection of highly diverse HIV-1 genotypes, including novel CRFs.
• Impact of HIV-1 recombination on the evolution of proteins and viral pathogenesis.
• Genotypic and phenotypic correlations (e.g., transmission and pathogenesis) of HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs.
• HIV-1 diversity and drug resistance mutations.
• Impact of HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs on response to antiretroviral therapy.
• Host antibody and T lymphocyte responses to relevant epitopes among patients infected with various HIV-1 subtypes and CRFs.
• Implication of HIV-1 diversity for the development of a global HIV vaccine.


Keywords: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Genetic Diversity, Molecular Epidemiology, Recombination, Subtype.


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