Transmission of HIV and HCV within Former Soviet Union Countries Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background. Following the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) in 1991, trans-border mobility increased within the former Soviet Union (FSU) countries. In addition, drug-trafficking and injection drug use began to rise, leading to the propagation and transmission of blood-borne infections within and across the FSU countries. To examine the transmission of blood-borne infections within this region, we analyzed the phylogenetic relationship of publically available sequences of two blood-borne viruses, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), from FSU countries. Methods. We analysed 614 and 295 NS5B sequences from HCV genotypes 1b and 3a, respectively, from 9 FSU countries. From 13 FSU countries, we analysed 347 HIV gag and 1282 HIV env sequences. To examine transmission networks and the origins of infection, respectively, phylogenetic and Bayesian analyses were performed. Results. Our analysis shows intermixing of HCV and HIV sequences, suggesting transmission of these viruses both within and across FSU countries. We show involvement of three major populations in transmission: injection drug user, heterosexual, and trans-border migrants. Conclusion. This study highlights the need to focus harm reduction efforts toward controlling transmission of blood-borne infections among the abovementioned high-risk populations in the FSU countries.


  • Aibekova, Lazzat
  • Bexeitova, Aizada
  • Aldabergenova, Arailym
  • Hortelano, Gonzalo
  • Ge, Zhangwen
  • Yi, Feng
  • Shao, Yiming
  • DeHovitz, Jack
  • Vermund, Sten H
  • Ali, Syed

publication date

  • July 15, 2020