HIV's march around Europe mapped

May 20, 2009
This map depicts the spread of HIV in Europe. Credit: Paraskevis et al, Retrovirology 2009

Those travelling abroad should take seriously advice to pack their condoms and keep their needles to themselves: research published today in the open access journal Retrovirology shows that tourists, travellers and migrants from Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain actively export HIV-1 subtype B to other European nations.

An international team of scientists used samples from 17 European countries to construct a viral phylogeography - a geographic pattern of taken from viruses at a number of locations that can be used to track how and when it spread (this technique has recently been applied to the .) HIV-1 subtype B is the most prevalent form of the circulating in Europe today.

The results showed that for three countries (Austria, Poland and Luxembourg) no significant exporting migration was observed. Whereas Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain were a source of subtype B to other countries. Notably, the virus spread widely from Greece and Spain to seven and five target countries respectively. Other countries had narrower targets, with Italy exporting HIV to Austria, and Portugal passing the virus primarily to Luxembourg (some 13% of Luxembourg's population is Portuguese). Other nations such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg showed only limited export of HIV-1 subtype B, while for Italy, Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK the authors inferred significant bidirectional migration. For Poland no significant migration was found.

According to the first author, Dimitrios Paraskevis, 'Popular tourist destinations like Greece, Portugal and Spain probably spread HIV with tourists infected during their holidays. To a large extent HIV spread within Poland is due to injecting drug users, who make up around half of the HIV-infected population. Viruses move around with travellers - thus health programmes within countries should not only target the national populations, prevention efforts must also be aimed at migrants, travellers and tourists - who are both major sources and targets of .'

More information: Tracing the HIV-1 subtype B mobility in Europe: a phylogeographic approach, Retrovirology (in press), www.retrovirology.com/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Explore further: Research shows meth increases HIV spread

Related Stories

Migration played key role in HIV spread in South Africa

February 14, 2007

Using data collected from nearly 500 men and women living in bustling towns and rural villages, researchers from Brown University, Harvard Medical School and Imperial College London created a mathematical model that shows ...

Studies suggest HIV subtype more deadly than others

November 27, 2007

Two studies led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that people infected with HIV in Thailand die from the disease significantly sooner than those with HIV living in other parts of ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.