Int J STD AIDS 2019 Apr 4;30(5):486-495. Epub 2019 Feb 4.
1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.
In this study, we assessed if the superimposition of incident sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on HIV phylogenetic analyses could reveal possible sexual behaviour misclassifications in our HIV-infected population. HIV-1 sequences collected between 1997 and 2014 from 1169 individuals attending a HIV clinic in Antwerp, Belgium were analysed to infer a partial HIV transmission network. Individual demographic, clinical and laboratory data collected during routine HIV follow-up were used to compare clustered and non-clustered individuals using logistic regression analyses. In total, 438 (37.5%) individuals were identified in 136 clusters, including 76 transmission pairs and 60 clusters consisting of three or more individuals. Individuals in a cluster were more likely to have a history of syphilis, Chlamydia and/or gonorrhoea (P < 0.05); however, when analyses were stratified by HIV transmission risk groups (heterosexual and men who have sex with men [MSM]), this association only remained significant for heterosexuals with syphilis (P = 0.001). Under closer scrutiny, this association was driven by six heterosexual men who were located in six almost exclusively MSM clusters. A parsimonious conclusion is that these six individuals were potentially misclassified as heterosexual. Improving the accuracy of sexual behaviour reporting could improve care.