HIV-1 transmission networks in high risk fishing communities on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda: A phylogenetic and epidemiological approach

Sylvia Kiwuwa-Muyingo, Jamirah Nazziwa, Deogratius Ssemwanga, Pauliina IImonen, Harr Njai, Nicaise Ndembi, Chris Parry, Paul Kato Kitandwe, Asiki Gershim, Juliet Mpendo, Leslie Neilsen, Janet Seeley, Heikki Seppala, Fred Lyagoba, Anatoli Kamali and Pontiano Kaleebu PLOS One, 2017; Read the full paper online

Fishing communities around Lake Victoria are a population at high risk of HIV infection. Fisherman move around to find the best yield and women meet the boats in different fishing villages to buy and sell fish, women may also trade sex for better fish to maximise business. 

This study used data from a cohort of HIV-positive individuals aged 13-49 years, enrolled from 5 fishing communities on Lake Victoria between 2009-2011, to identify factors contributing to the epidemic and to understand the underlying structure of HIV transmission networks.

The results reveal that transmission between communities was less common than expected. In this key mobile population, 83% of transmissions happened within households or communities. The results suggest that these fishing communities could potentially benefit from the test and treat approach at a community level, coupled with intensified HIV counselling to identify early infections.

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