Surveillance Open Access
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Ending the HIV pandemic must involve new tools to rapidly identify and control local outbreaks and prevent the emergence of recombinant strains with epidemiological advantages.


This observational study aimed to investigate in France a cluster of HIV-1 cases related to a new circulating recombinant form (CRF). The confirmation this CRF’s novelty as well as measures to control its spread are presented.


Phylogenetic analyses of HIV sequences routinely generated for drug resistance genotyping before 2018 in French laboratories were employed to detect the transmission chain. The CRF involved was characterised by almost full-length viral sequencing for six cases. Cases’ clinical data were reviewed. Where possible, epidemiological information was collected with a questionnaire.


The transmission cluster comprised 49 cases, mostly diagnosed in 2016–2017 (n = 37). All were infected with a new CRF, CRF94_cpx. The molecular proximity of this CRF to X4 strains and the high median viraemia, exceeding 5.0 log copies/mL, at diagnosis, even in chronic infection, raise concerns of enhanced virulence. Overall, 41 cases were diagnosed in the Ile-de-France region and 45 were men who have sex with men. Among 24 cases with available information, 20 reported finding partners through a geosocial networking app. Prevention activities in the area and population affected were undertaken.


We advocate the systematic use of routinely generated HIV molecular data by a dedicated reactive network, to improve and accelerate targeted prevention interventions. Geosocial networking apps can play a role in the spread of outbreaks, but could also deliver local targeted preventive alerts.


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