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The dynamics of the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) from 2005 to 2012 in Shenzhen, China

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HIV-1 epidemics among MSM are a major public health concern in China, especially in large cities. This study sought to better understand the dynamics of HIV molecular epidemiology among MSM in Shenzhen, a rapidly developing city with over 13.8 million people. HIV-1 pol sequences were obtained from 996 (53.5%) of 1862 HIV-infected MSM and 403(9.0%) of 4498 heterosexuals and injection drug users in Shenzhen, China from 2005-2012. Eight HIV-1 subtypes and some inter-subtype recombinants were identified among sampled MSM with CRF07_BC (39.1%) and CRF01_AE (35.1%) being the most predominant. From 2006 to 2012, the prevalence of CRF07_BC and CRF55_01B rapidly increased, while the prevalence of subtypes B and CRF01_AE gradually decreased. The genetic distances within CRF07_BC and CRF55_01B groups were significantly lower than within CRF01_AE and B groups. The vast majority (90.3%) of HIV-1 infected MSM in Shenzhen were migrants who came from 31 of the 34 provinces of China, and these migrants had significantly different HIV-1 subtype distributions from the local MSM. This study highlighted the importance of CRF07_BC and migrants in the changing HIV epidemic among MSM in China, and provides a molecular epidemiology framework for understanding how HIV-1 epidemics can change in large cities with diverse risk groups.

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