Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version



AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 31(5): 479-487


Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


The Liangshan prefecture in Sichuan province is an area in China severely affected by the HIV epidemic, with intravenous drug use (IDU) as the main risk factor. No reports on HIV subtypes prevalent in IDUs in Liangshan prefecture could be found. In this study, we have characterized the genotypes of HIV-1 in the IDU population in Liangshan prefecture and further determined the phylogenetic relationship of the CRF07_BC strains to HIV-1 sequences from the other regions of China, including Xinjiang and Yunnan provinces, to explore the pattern and possible diffusion pathway of HIV-1 in these regions. HIV-1-seropositive drug-naive IDUs identified in Liangshan prefecture, Sichuan province were enrolled in 2009. Full-length gag and pol genes were amplified by reverse transcription and nested PCR and then sequenced. All of the sequences were subtyped. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using the neighbor-joining and maximum likelihood methods. Divergence times were estimated using a Bayesian molecular clock approach. CRF07_BC was found to be the predominant strain in IDUs in Liangshan prefecture (95.5%). The CRF07_BC strains from Liangshan prefecture were found to be intermixed with those from Yunnan province in phylogenetic trees. The CRF07_BC sequences from Xinjiang province can be grouped into several clusters, suggesting that the expansion of the CRF07_BC epidemic in Xinjiang province was the result of a local epidemic driven by multiple independent introductions in the late 1990s. Only low-level drug-resistant viruses were found in the IDU population. CRF07_BC strains from Liangshan prefecture were more similar to those from Yunnan province than those from Xinjiang province. This finding will contribute to our understanding of the distribution, the evolution, and the potential source of CRF07_BC founder strains, and will also provide useful information for the development of strategies to prevent transmission.