Persons who inject drugs (PWID) and their risk-related behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex and sharing needles/syringes/other injection equipment) have caused severe public health problems, especially in the rapid spread of HIV-1 and HCV. Here, we reconstructed the epidemic history of HIV-1 circulating recombinant form (CRF) 01_AE, CRF07_BC, and HCV subtype-6w among Taiwanese PWID. The timescales were estimated using phylogenetic and Bayesian coalescent analyses. The results revealed that CRF01_AE started to circulate in the Taiwanese PWID population in central Taiwan at 1992.5 (95% credible region: 1988.8–1995.9) and spread to other regions of Taiwan, while CRF07_BC was first identified in southern Taiwan at 2000.0 (95% CR: 1997.8–2002.2) and then spread northward to central-northern Taiwan. All HCV-6 strains were from Asia (that is, China, Myanmar, Taiwan, and Vietnam) and originated in 1928.1 (95% CR: 1890.2–1966.0). Furthermore, subtype-6w isolates from different regions of Taiwan appeared to share a common source that existed in the mid-1990s (95% CR: 1985.0–2001.8) or thereabouts. The routes of drug trafficking and the resulting high prevalence of HIV-1/HCV co-infections among PWID might have contributed to the virus transmission and promoted its spread worldwide. Long-term monitoring and policy implementation in at-risk populations would be useful for disease control.
- epidemic history
- geographic transmission
- persons who inject drugs (PWID)
- time of the most recent common ancestor (tMRCA)
- transmission routes