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Across sub-Saharan Africa, key populations with elevated HIV-1 incidence and/or prevalence have been identified, but their contribution to disease spread remains unclear. We performed viral deep-sequence phylogenetic analyses to quantify transmission dynamics between the general population (GP), fisherfolk communities (FF), and women at high risk of infection and their clients (WHR) in central and southwestern Uganda. Between August 2014 and August 2017, 6185 HIV-1 positive individuals were enrolled in 3 GP and 10 FF communities, 3 WHR enrollment sites. A total of 2531 antiretroviral therapy (ART) naïve participants with plasma viral load >1000 copies/mL were deep-sequenced. One hundred and twenty-three transmission networks were reconstructed, including 105 phylogenetically highly supported source-recipient pairs. Only one pair involved a WHR and male participant, suggesting that improved population sampling is needed to assess empirically the role of WHR to the transmission dynamics. More transmissions were observed from the GP communities to FF communities than vice versa, with an estimated flow ratio of 1.56 (95% CrI 0.68-3.72), indicating that fishing communities on Lake Victoria are not a net source of transmission flow to neighboring communities further inland. Men contributed disproportionally to HIV-1 transmission flow regardless of age, suggesting that prevention efforts need to better aid men to engage with and stay in care.

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Medical Research Council (MRC)/Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Uganda Research Unit, Entebbe 256, Uganda.