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Spatial Epidemiology of Recently Acquired HIV Infections across Rural and Urban Areas of North Carolina

Citation

Carrel, Margaret A.; Eron, Joseph J., Jr.; Emch, Michael E.; & Hurt, Christopher B. (2014). Spatial Epidemiology of Recently Acquired HIV Infections across Rural and Urban Areas of North Carolina. PLOS ONE, 9(2), e88512. PMCID: PMC3919766

Abstract

Transmission of HIV continues in the United States (US), despite prevention efforts aimed at education and treatment. Concurrently, drug resistance in HIV, particularly in patients being infected with HIV for the first time, poses a threat to the continued success of treatment for HIV positive individuals. In North Carolina, nearly one in five individuals with acute HIV infection (AHI) is infected with a drug-resistant strain, a phenomenon known as transmitted drug resistance (TDR). Few studies of AHI or TDR take into account both the spatial aspects of residence at time of infection and the genetic characteristics of the viruses, and questions remain about how viruses are transmitted across space and the rural-urban divide. Using AHI strains from North Carolina, we examined whether differences exist in the spatial patterns of AHI versus AHI with TDR, as well as whether the genetic characteristics of these HIV infections vary by rural-urban status and across Health Service Areas. The highest amounts of TDR were detected in persons under age 30, African Americans, and men who have sex with men (MSM) - similar to the populations where the highest numbers of AHI without TDR are observed. Nearly a quarter of patients reside in rural areas, and there are no significant differences between rural and urban residence among individuals infected with drug resistant or drug susceptible viruses. We observe similar levels of genetic distance between HIV found in rural and urban areas, indicating that viruses are shared across the rural-urban divide. Genetic differences are observed, however, across Health Service Areas, suggesting that local areas are sites of genetic differentiation in viruses being transmitted to newly infected individuals. These results indicate that future efforts to prevent HIV transmission need to be spatially targeted, focusing on local-level transmission in risky populations, in addition to statewide anti- HIV efforts.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0088512

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2014

Journal Title

PLOS ONE

Author(s)

Carrel, Margaret A.
Eron, Joseph J., Jr.
Emch, Michael E.
Hurt, Christopher B.

PMCID

PMC3919766