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Molecular analysis allows inference into HIV transmission among young men who have sex with men in the United States
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  • Description:

    To understand the spread of HIV among and between age and racial/ethnic groups of men who engage in male-to-male sexual contact (men who have sex with men, MSM) in the United States.


    Analysis of HIV-1 pol sequences for MSM collected through the U.S. National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS) during 2001–2012.


    Pairwise genetic distance was calculated to determine potential transmission partners (those with very closely related nucleotide sequences, i.e., distance ≤1.5%). We described race/ethnicity and age of potential transmission partners of MSM.


    Of 23,048 MSM with HIV sequences submitted to NHSS during 2000–2012, we identified potential transmission partners for 8,880 (39%). Most potential transmission partners were of the same race/ethnicity (78% for blacks/African Americans, 64% for whites, and 49% for Hispanics/Latinos). This assortative mixing was even more pronounced in the youngest age groups. Significantly fewer young black/African American and Hispanic/Latino MSM had older potential transmission partners compared with young white MSM.


    Black/African American MSM, who are more profoundly affected by HIV, were more likely to have potential HIV transmission partners who were of the same race/ethnicity and similar in age, suggesting that disparities in HIV infections are in large part not due to age-disassortative relationships. Concerted efforts to increase access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, quality HIV care, and effective treatment are needed to interrupt transmission chains among young, black/African American MSM.

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    CC999999/Intramural CDC HHS/United States
    K01 AI110181/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States
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