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'Transport infrastructure' determines spread of HIV subtypes in Africa
Date:12/4/2012

types over a map of travel times between settled areas makes the link between spatial accessibility and HIV subtype "clearly evident." Dr Tatem and coauthors write, "[C]lusters of similar subtype distributions are well connected and easily accessible from one another, whereas regions of low accessibility separate groupings of similar subtype distributions."

Show Role of Travel in Spread of HIV Subtypes

Transport networks and ease of travelrather than the straight-line distances between locationsprovided a much better explanation for the distribution of HIV subtypes. The data showed clustering of certain subtype distributions in well-connected regionssuch as the western, eastern, and southern Africa and Ethiopiathat are separated by areas of "limited connectivity."

In contrast, the difficulty of travel in certain areas of central Africa likely restricted the spread of HIV, the researchers suggest. "The relatively poor connectivity in central Africa likely contributed to the slow initial growth of the epidemic in the first half of the 20th century," according to Dr Tatem and colleagues. The same factor may explain why HIV rates remained relatively low in central Africa, while soaring elsewhere.

Although the study has some important limitations, it adds important evidence for understanding how transport infrastructure and geography have affectedand will continue to affectthe spread of HIV. The authors hope that the modeling techniques used can be extended to map cultural and other factors affecting HIV subtype distribution and transmissibility. More accurate data on "actual volumes and flows of human travel" could also lend new insights.

"The increased travel and mobility of people may lead to the accelerated spread of new variants and the further diversification of the global HIV epidemic," Dr Tatem and coauthors write. They believe that ongoing efforts to monitor the spread of HIV subtypes could have important i
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Contact: Connie Hughes
Connie.Hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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