HIV, the cause of AIDS in humans, is characterized by great genetic heterogeneity. In particular, HIV-1 group M subtypes are responsible for most of the infections worldwide. We investigate the demographic history of HIV-1B and HIV-1C subtypes in South Africa and Brazil using both a parametric and a nonparametric approach based on coalescent theory. Our results show that although both subtypes are spreading exponentially in Brazil, the HIV-1C growth rate is about twice that of Brazilian HIV-1B or South African HIV-1C, providing evidence, for the first time, of a different epidemic potential between two HIV-1 subtypes. The present study not only may have important consequences for devising future vaccination and therapeutic strategies, but also offers additional evidence that skyline plots are indeed a simple and powerful tool for monitoring and predicting the behavior of viral epidemics.

Original publication




Journal article


J Mol Evol

Publication Date





598 - 605


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Demography, Evolution, Molecular, Genetic Variation, HIV-1, Humans, Likelihood Functions, Models, Biological, Models, Genetic, Phylogeny, Population Dynamics, South Africa, South America, Species Specificity