Molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 infection among men who have sex with men in Taiwan in 2012

Szu Wei Huang, Sheng Fan Wang, Ángel E. Cowó, Marcelo Chen, Yu Ting Lin, Chun Po Hung, Yi Hsien Chen, Jyh Yuan Yang, Hung Jen Tang, Yi Ming Arthur Chen

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The number of men who have sex with men (MSM) infected with HIV-1 in Taiwan has increased rapidly in the past few years. The goal of this study was to conduct a molecular epidemiological study of HIV-1 infection among MSM in Taiwan to identify risk factors for intervention. Voluntary counseling program and anonymous testing were provided to patrons at 1 gay bar, 7 night clubs and 3 gay saunas in Taipei and New Taipei Cities in 2012. HIV-1 subtypes were determined using gag subtype-specific PCR and phylogenetic analysis by env sequences. Recent HIV-1 infection was determined using LAg-Avidity EIA. In-depth interviews and questionnaires were used to identify risk factors. The prevalence and incidence of HIV-1 among MSM in Taiwan were 4.38% (53/1,208) and 3.29 per 100 person-years, respectively. Of 49 cases genotyped, 48 (97.9%) were infected with subtype B and 1 with CRF01-AE (2%). Phylogenetic analysis of 46 HIV-1 strains showed that 25 (54.4%) subtype B strains formed 9 clusters with each other or with other local strains. The CRF01-AE case clustered with a reference strain from a Thai blood donor with bootstrap value of 99. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that risk factors associated with HIV-1 infection included use of oil-based solution as lubricant (vs. saliva or water-based lubricants, OR= 4.23; p <0.001); exclusively receptive role (vs. insertive role, OR=9.69; p <0.001); versatile role (vs. insertive role, OR= 6.45; p= 0.003); oral sex (vs. insertive role, OR= 11.93; p= 0.044); times of sexual contact per week (2-3 vs. zero per week, OR=3.41; p= 0.021); illegal drug use (OR= 4.12; p <0.001); and history of sexually transmitted diseases (OR= 3.65; p= 0.002). In conclusion, there was no new HIV-1 subtype or circulating recombinant form responsible for the increase of HIV-1 among MSM in Taiwan in 2012. Misuse of oil-based solution as lubricant is a new risk factor identified among MSM in Taiwan. The Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control has created a video ( to correct such misconception in its AIDS prevention campaign.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0128266
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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