Eight hundred and seventy-nine HIV-1-infected patients (comprising 46% of reported HIV-1/AIDS cases in Taiwan) were recruited for this study of the molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 in Taiwan from 1988 to 1998. HIV-1 subtypes were determined using a modified peptide-enzyme immunoassay complemented with DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Of the 807 HIV-1 infected men, 68.2% were infected with HIV-1B, 29.5% with HIV-1 circulating recombinant form (CRF)01_AE and 2.3% with other subtypes. Of the 72 HIV-1-infected women, 72.2% were infected with HIV-1 CRF01_AE, 13.9% with HIV-1B, and 13.9% with other subtypes. All of 8 foreign-born, Southeast Asian women and 6 of 7 (85.7%) Taiwan-native female commercial sex workers were infected with HIV-1 CRF01_AE. Fourteen of the 33 (42.4%) heterosexual married men with CRF01_AE had transmitted HIV-1 to their wives, whereas only 1 of 17 (5.9%) men with HIV-1 B had transmitted HIV-1 to their spouses (p < .01). Of 18 heterosexual male injecting drug users, 1 of 12 (8.5%) with HIV-1B and 5 of 6 (83.3%) with HIV-1 CRF01_AE had had sexual contact with female commercial sex workers (p < .01). Therefore, in this population, CRF01_AE was preferentially associated with heterosexual risk groups, a finding compatible with differences in transmission capability between B and non-B subtypes.
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