BMC research notes 2017 04 2810(1) 170 doi 10.1186/s13104-017-2491-2
The epidemiological and clinical aspects of human immunodeficiency virus subtypes are of great interest worldwide. These subtypes are rarely studied in North African countries. Libya is a large country with the longest coast on the Mediterranean Sea, facing the Southern European countries. Studies on the characterization of HIV-1 subtypes are limited in Libya. This study aimed to determine the magnitude of the HIV problem among the Libyan population and to better understand the genetic diversity and the epidemiologic dynamics of HIV 1, as well as to correlate that with the risk factors involved.
A total of 159 HIV-1 strains were collected from 814 HIV positive patients from the four Libyan regions during a 16-year period (1995-2010). To determine the HIV-1 subtypes, genetic analysis and molecular sequencing were carried out using provirus polygene. Epidemiologic and demographic information was obtained from each participant and correlated with HIV-1 subtypes using logistic regression.
The overall prevalence of HIV among Libyans ranged from 5 to 10 per 100,000 during the study period. It was higher among intravenous drug users (IVDUs) (53.9%), blood recipients (25.9%) and heterosexuals (17.6%) than by vertical transmission (2.6%). Prevalence was higher among males aged 20-40 years (M:F 1:6, P > 0.001). Among the 159 strains of HIV-1 available for typing, 117 strains (73.6%) were subtype B, 29 (18.2%) were CRF02_AG, and 13 (8.2%) were subtype A. HIV-1 subtype B was the most prevalent all over the country, and it was more prevalent in the Northern region, particularly among IVDUs (P < 0.001). GRF02_AG was common in the Eastern region, particularly among blood recipients while subtype A emerged in the Western region, particularly among IVDUs. CONCLUSIONS
HIV-1 infection is emerging in Libya with a shifting prevalence of subtypes associated with the changing epidemiology of HIV-1 among risk groups. A genetic analysis of HIV-1 strains demonstrated low subtype heterogeneity with the evolution of subtype B, and CRF_20 AG, as well as HIV-1 subtype A. Our study highlights the importance of expanded surveillance programs to control HIV infection and the necessity of introducing public health strategies to target the risk groups, particularly IVDUs.