- WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) - Epidemiological evidence
suggests that the HIV-1 epidemic in homosexuals and in intravenous drug
users in Western countries originated from different sources.
- Dr. Carla Kuiken from Los Alamos National Laboratory
in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and colleagues analyzed the relationship of
various HIV-1 variants within subtype B (the most prevalent subtype in
Western countries) in homosexuals and intravenous drug users in Sweden,
Norway, and Holland in an effort to understand how the epidemic might have
- In both Sweden and Norway, the two risk groups carried
distinct HIV-1 variants, the authors report in the November issue of the
American Journal of Epidemiology. Moreover, the mutations shared by Swedish
and Dutch drug users were common, whereas those unique to each country
were relatively rare.
- Similarly, the sequences from Norwegian and Dutch homosexuals
seemed to be indistinguishable, the researchers note.
- "Differences between homosexual and intravenous
drug user virus populations appear to be ubiquitous in Northern Europe,"
the authors conclude. "Based on the available data, the most plausible
scenario seems to be that the subtype B virus was carried out of Africa
and introduced into the Western homosexual community by one person."
- The researchers postulate that the virus then spread
to other risk groups in the US, where the virus evolved independently,
remaining relatively homogeneous within the separate risk groups.
- "Sequencing of more virus variants from a large
number of US intravenous drug users from different geographic locations
would seem to be the best way to determine the plausibility of this scenario,"
- Am J Epidemiol 2000;152:814-822.
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