Building up a collaborative network for the surveillance of HIV genetic diversity in Italy. A pilot study



introduction. Prevalence of infection with HIV-1 non-B subtypes in Italy has been reported to raise, due to increased migration flows and travels. HIV-1 variants show different biological and immunological properties that impact on disease progression rate, response to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and sensitivity of diagnostic tests with important implications for public health. Therefore, a constant surveillance of the dynamics of HIV variants in Italy should be a high public health priority. Organization of surveillance studies requires building up a platform constituted of a network of clinical centers, laboratories and institutional agencies, able to properly collect samples for the investigation of HIV subtypes heterogeneity and to provide a database with reliable demographic, clinical, immunological and virological data. Aim. We here report our experience in building up such a platform, co-ordinated by the National AIDS Center of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, taking advantage of a pilot study aimed at evaluating HIV subtypes diversity in populations of HIV-infected migrant people in Italy. Materials and methods. Four hundred and thirty four HIV-infected migrants were enrolled in 9 Italian clinical centers located throughout the Italian territory. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for sample collection were provided by the National AIDS Center to each clinical center. In addition, clinical centers were required to fill up a case report form (crf) for each patient, which included demographic, clinical, immunological and virological information. Results. All centers properly collected and stored samples from each enrolled individual. Overall, the required information was correctly provided for more than 90% of the patients. However, some fields of the crf, particularly those including information on the last HIV-negative antibody test and presence of co-infections, were properly filled up in less than 80% of the enrolled migrants. Centers from Northern and Central Italy showed a better tendency to report correct information in the crf than centers from the South. These results provide evidence that procedures for establishing a platform for the surveillance of HIV subtype heterogeneity are affordable by all the components of the network and lay the ground for the organization of a broader HIV subtypes surveillance in Italy.

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Nunzia Sanarico

Stefania D'amato

Orietta Picconi

Barbara Ensoli

Stefano Buttò

Italian Network for HIV Characterization

How to Cite
Sanarico, N., D'amato, S., Picconi, O., Ensoli, B., Buttò, S., & for HIV Characterization, I. N. (2015). Building up a collaborative network for the surveillance of HIV genetic diversity in Italy. A pilot study. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore Di Sanità, 51(4), 321–326. Retrieved from
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