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posted on 27.11.2020, 04:26 by Ágabo Macêdo da Costa e Silva, Mônica Nogueira da Guarda Reis, Thaís Augusto Marinho, Nara Rúbia de Freitas, Sheila Araújo Teles, Márcia Alves Dias de Matos, Megmar Aparecida dos Santos Carneiro, Gonzalo Bello, Mariane Martins Araújo Stefani, Regina Maria Bringel Martins

This study describes human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) prevalence, associated factors, viral genetic diversity, transmitted drug resistance (TDR), and acquired drug resistance mutations (DRM) among a population of 522 men who have sex with men (MSM) recruited by the respondent-driven sampling (RDS) method, in Goiânia city, the capital of the State of Goiás, Central-Western Brazil. All serum samples were tested using a four-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and reactive samples were confirmed by immunoblotting. Plasma RNA or proviral DNA was extracted, and partial polymerase (pol) gene including the protease/reverse transcriptase (PR/RT) region was amplified and sequenced. HIV-1 subtypes were identified by phylogenetic inference and by bootscan analysis. The time and location of the ancestral strains that originated the transmission clusters were estimated by a Bayesian phylogeographic approach. TDR and DRM were identified using the Stanford databases. Overall, HIV-1 prevalence was 17.6% (95% CI: 12.6–23.5). Self-declared black skin color, receptive anal intercourse, sex with drug user partner, and history of sexually transmitted infections were factors associated with HIV-1 infection. Of 105 HIV-1-positive samples, 78 (74.3%) were sequenced and subtyped as B (65.4%), F1 (20.5%), C (3.8%), and BF1 (10.3%). Most HIV-1 subtype B sequences (67%; 34 out of 51) branched within 12 monophyletic clusters of variable sizes, which probably arose in the State of Goiás between the 1980s and 2010s. Most subtype F1 sequences (n = 14, 88%) branched in a single monophyletic cluster that probably arose in Goiás around the late 1990s. Among 78 samples sequenced, three were from patients under antiretroviral therapy (ART); two presented DRM. Among 75 ART-naïve patients, TDR was identified in 13 (17.3%; CI 95%: 9.6–27.8). Resistance mutations to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) predominated (14.7%), followed by nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) mutations (5.3%) and protease inhibitor (PI) mutations (1.3%). This study shows a high prevalence of HIV-1 associated with sexual risk behaviors, high rate of TDR, and high genetic diversity driven by the local expansion of different subtype B and F1 strains. These findings can contribute to the understanding about the dissemination and epidemiological and molecular characteristics of HIV-1 among the population of MSM living away from the epicenter of epidemics in Brazil.