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Predictors of HIV Molecular Cluster Membership and Implications for Partner Services

Camden J Hallmark, Charles Luswata, Natascha Del Vecchio, Christina Hayford, Ricardo Mora, Michelle Carr, Marlene McNeese, Nanette Benbow, John A Schneider, Joel O Wertheim, Kayo Fujimoto

AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses

Public health surveillance data used in HIV molecular cluster analyses lack contextual information that is available from partner services (PS) data. Integrating these data sources in retrospective analyses can enrich understanding of the risk profile of people in clusters. In this study, HIV molecular clusters were identified and matched to information on partners and other information gleaned at the time of diagnosis, including coinfection with syphilis. We aimed to produce a more complete understanding of molecular cluster membership in Houston, Texas, a city ranking ninth nationally in rate of new HIV diagnoses that may benefit from retrospective matched analyses between molecular and PS data to inform future intervention. Data from PS were matched to molecular HIV records of people newly diagnosed from 2012 to 2018. By conducting analyses in HIV-TRACE (TRAnsmission Cluster Engine) using viral genetic sequences, molecular clusters were detected. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between molecular cluster membership and completion of a PS interview, number of named partners, and syphilis coinfection. Using data from 4,035 people who had a viral genetic sequence and matched PS records, molecular cluster membership was not significantly associated with completion of a PS interview. Among those with sequences who completed a PS interview (n = 3,869), 45.3% (n = 1,753) clustered. Molecular cluster membership was significantly associated with naming 1 or 3+ partners compared with not naming any partners [adjusted odds ratio, aOR: 1.27 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.08-1.50), p = .003 and aOR: 1.38 (95% CI: 1.06-1.81), p = .02]. Alone, coinfection with syphilis was not significantly associated with molecular cluster membership. Syphilis coinfection was associated with molecular cluster membership when coupled with incarceration [aOR: 1.91 (95% CI: 1.08-3.38), p = .03], a risk for treatment interruption. Enhanced intervention among those with similar profiles, such as people coinfected with other risks, may be warranted.

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