Scientific reports 2017 07 257(1) 6371 doi 10.1038/s41598-017-06860-2
A temporal increase in non-B subtypes has earlier been described in Sweden by us and we hypothesized that this increased viral heterogeneity may become a hotspot for the development of more complex and unique recombinant forms (URFs) if the epidemics converge. In the present study, we performed subtyping using four automated tools and phylogenetic analysis by RAxML of pol gene sequences (n = 5246) and HIV-1 near full-length genome (HIV-NFLG) sequences (n = 104). A CD4(+) T-cell decline trajectory algorithm was used to estimate time of HIV infection. Transmission clusters were identified using the family-joining method. The analysis of HIV-NFLG and pol gene described 10.6% (11/104) and 2.6% (137/5246) of the strains as URFs, respectively. An increasing trend of URFs was observed in recent years by both approaches (p = 0·0082; p < 0·0001). Transmission cluster analysis using the pol gene of all URFs identified 14 clusters with two to eight sequences. Larger transmission clusters of URFs (BF1 and 01B) were observed among MSM who mostly were sero-diagnosed in recent time. Understanding the increased appearance and transmission of URFs in recent years could have importance for public health interventions and the use of HIV-NFLG would provide better statistical support for such assessments.