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The proportion of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) among Vietnamese injecting drug users (IDUs) in Melbourne, Australia exceeds that of the background population. To investigate the molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 among this group, the C2-V4 region of the HIV-1 envelope was directly sequenced from 11 Vietnamese Australians and 19 non-Vietnamese Australian controls. A significant difference in the distribution of the HIV-1 subtypes was demonstrated, with greater than 50% of Vietnamese Australian IDU shown to be infected with CRF01_AE-the predominant subtype in Southeast Asia, rather than subtype B, which dominates the Australian epidemic and which was found in 89.5% of the non-Vietnamese controls. The genetic diversity of the CRF01_AE epidemic in Vietnamese Australian IDUs was substantially lower that that of the background subtype B, consistent with a more recent introduction of a limited number of viral strains from Vietnam. These results support public health policy targeting Australian IDUs of Vietnamese ethnicity as a distinct vulnerable population.