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Tracing the HIV-1 subtype B mobility in Europe: a phylogeographic approach

Dimitrios Paraskevis12*, Oliver Pybus3, Gkikas Magiorkinis2, Angelos Hatzakis2, Annemarie MJ Wensing4, David A van de Vijver5, Jan Albert67, Guiseppe Angarano8, Birgitta Åsjö9, Claudia Balotta10, Enzo Boeri11, Ricardo Camacho12, Marie-Laure Chaix13, Suzie Coughlan14, Dominique Costagliola15, Andrea De Luca16, Carmen de Mendoza17, Inge Derdelinckx18, Zehava Grossman19, Osama Hamouda20, IM Hoepelman21, Andrzej Horban22, Klaus Korn23, Claudia Kücherer20, Thomas Leitner67, Clive Loveday24, Eilidh MacRae25, I Maljkovic-Berry67, Laurence Meyer25, Claus Nielsen26, Eline LM Op de Coul27, Vidar Ormaasen28, Luc Perrin29, Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl30, Lidia Ruiz31, Mika O Salminen32, Jean-Claude Schmit33, Rob Schuurman4, Vincent Soriano17, J Stanczak22, Maja Stanojevic34, Daniel Struck33, Kristel Van Laethem1, M Violin10, Sabine Yerly29, Maurizio Zazzi35, Charles A Boucher45, Anne-Mieke Vandamme1 and the SPREAD Programme

Author Affiliations

1 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Rega Institute for Medical research, Minderbroederstraat 10, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

2 National Retrovirus Reference Center, Department of Hygiene Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Medical School, University of Athens, M. Asias 75, GR-11527, Athens, Greece

3 Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK

4 University Medical Center Utrecht, Department of Virology, G04.614, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX, Utrecht, the Netherlands

5 Department of Virology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre, Postbus 2040 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands

6 Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cellbiology, Karolinska Institutet, SE 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

7 Dept of Virology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, SE-171 82 Solna, Sweden

8 University of Foggia, Clinic of Infectious Diseases, Ospedali Riuniti – Via L. Pinto 71100 Foggia, Italy

9 Center for Research in Virology, University of Bergen, Bergen High Technology Center, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

10 University of Milano, Institute of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Via Festa del Perdono 7, 20122 Milano, Italy

11 Diagnostica and Ricerca San Raffaele, Centro San Luigi, I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Scientifico San Raffaele, Milan, Italy

12 Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Laboratorio de Virologia, Rua da Junqueira 96 1349-008 Lisboa, Portugal

13 EA 3620, Universite Paris Descartes, Virologie, CHU Necker, Paris France

14 National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College, Dublin, Ireland

15 INSERM U263 et SC4, Faculté de médecine Saint-Antoine, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 27 rue de Chaligny, F-75571 Paris, France

16 Department of Infectious Diseases, Catholic University, L.go A. Gemelli, 8 00168 Rome, Italy

17 Hospital Carlos III, Hospital Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

18 Internal Medicine, UZ Leuven, Belgium

19 National. HIV Reference Lab, Central Virology, Public Health Laboratories, MOH Central Virology, Sheba Medical Center, 2 Ben-Tabai Street, Israel

20 Robert Koch Institut (RKI), Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany

21 University Medical Center Utrecht, Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases F02.126, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX, Utrecht, the Netherlands

22 Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Center for Diagnosis & Therapy Warsaw 37, Wolska Str. 01-201 Warszawa, Poland

23 University of Erlangen, Schlossplatz 4, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany

24 ICVC Charity Laboratories, 3d floor, Apollo Centre Desborough Road High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 2QW, UK

25 Inserm, U822, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, F-94276, France

26 Statens Serum Institut Copenhagen, Retrovirus Laboratory, department of virology, building 87, Division of Diagnostic Microbiology 5, Artillerivej 2300 Copenhagen, Denmark

27 Centre for Infectious Disease Control (Epidemiology & Surveillance), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands

28 Ullevaal University Hospital, Department of Infectious Diseases Kirkeveien 166, N-0407 Oslo, Norway

29 Laboratory of Virology, Geneva University Hospital and University of Geneva Medical School, Geneva, Switzerland

30 Institute of Virology, Medical University Vienna, Kinderspitalgasse 15, Vienna, Austria

31 IrsiCaixa Foundation, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Ctra. de Canyet s/n, 08916 Badalona (Barcelona), Spain

32 National Public Health Institute, HIV laboratory and department of infectious disease epidemiology, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

33 Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, Retrovirology Laboratory, National service of Infectious Diseases, 4 Rue Barblé, L-1210, Luxembourg

34 University of Belgrade School of Medicine, Institute of Microbiology and Immunology Virology Department, Dr Subotica 1, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

35 Section of Microbiology, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Italy

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Retrovirology 2009, 6:49  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-6-49

Published: 20 May 2009



The prevalence and the origin of HIV-1 subtype B, the most prevalent circulating clade among the long-term residents in Europe, have been studied extensively. However the spatial diffusion of the epidemic from the perspective of the virus has not previously been traced.


In the current study we inferred the migration history of HIV-1 subtype B by way of a phylogeography of viral sequences sampled from 16 European countries and Israel. Migration events were inferred from viral phylogenies by character reconstruction using parsimony. With regard to the spatial dispersal of the HIV subtype B sequences across viral phylogenies, in most of the countries in Europe the epidemic was introduced by multiple sources and subsequently spread within local networks. Poland provides an exception where most of the infections were the result of a single point introduction. According to the significant migratory pathways, we show that there are considerable differences across Europe. Specifically, Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain, provide sources shedding HIV-1; Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, on the other hand, are migratory targets, while for Denmark, Germany, Italy, Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK we inferred significant bidirectional migration. For Poland no significant migratory pathways were inferred.


Subtype B phylogeographies provide a new insight about the geographical distribution of viral lineages, as well as the significant pathways of virus dispersal across Europe, suggesting that intervention strategies should also address tourists, travellers and migrants.