The HIV-1 clade C is prevalent worldwide and spread from Africa to South East Asia and South America early in the course of the epidemic. As a consequence of migration waves about 13% of the Italian HIV-1 epidemic is sustained by this clade. Two hundred fifty-four C pol sequences from the Italian ARCA database collected during 1997-2011 were analyzed. Epidemiological networks and geographical fluxes were identified through phylogeny using Bayesian approaches. Patients' country of origin was Italy, Africa, South America, and South East Asia for 44.9%, 23.6%, 4.7%, and 1.6%, respectively. Heterosexuals and men having sex with men accounted for 83.2% and 16.8%, respectively. Modality of infection was distributed differently: heterosexuals were largely prevalent among Italians (84.1%) and Africans (95.3%), while men having sex with men predominated among South Americans (66.7%). Eight significant clusters encompassing 111 patients (43.7%) were identified. Comparison between clustering and non-clustering patients indicated significant differences in country of origin, modality of infection and gender. Men having sex with men were associated to a higher probability to be included in networks (70% for men having sex with men vs. 30.3% for heterosexuals). Phylogeography highlighted two significant groups. One contained Indian strains and the second encompassed South Americans and almost all Italian strains. Phylogeography indicated that the spread of C subtype among Italians is related to South American variant. Although Italian patients mainly reported themselves as heterosexuals, homo-bisexual contacts were likely their source of infection. Phylogenetic monitoring is warranted to guide public health interventions aimed at controlling HIV infection. J. Med. Virol. 9999: XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- HIV-1 C subtype
- Italian epidemiological networks
- phylogeographic analysis