Research Article: The Global Spread of Hepatitis C Virus 1a and 1b: A Phylodynamic and Phylogeographic Analysis

Date Published: December 15, 2009

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Gkikas Magiorkinis, Emmanouil Magiorkinis, Dimitrios Paraskevis, Simon Y. W. Ho, Beth Shapiro, Oliver G. Pybus, Jean-Pierre Allain, Angelos Hatzakis, Arthur Y. Kim

Abstract: Using phylodynamic and phylogeographic methods, Angelos Hatzakis and colleagues find that the global spread of Hepatitis C virus coincided with widespread use of transfused blood and with the expansion of intravenous drug use.

Partial Text: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3% of the world’s population is infected by hepatitis C virus (HCV) [1]. HCV is primarily classified into six genotypes and many subtypes and, although its origin is unknown, patterns of viral diversity suggest an origin in either West Africa or Southeast Asia [2]–[4]. Even though the global HCV epidemic was widespread by 1980, it was not until 1989 that the virus was identified as the leading cause of non-A non-B hepatitis [5]. No animal source has been identified to support a hypothesis of zoonotic transmission [4].

Our analysis aimed to estimate the spatiotemporal spread of the global epidemic HCV subtypes 1a and 1b. First, we were able to improve significantly the analytical framework of HCV phylodynamics by demonstrating that E2P7NS2 is evolving in a more clocklike manner than NS5B. Moreover, we showed that HCV is evolving faster than previously thought and we were able to provide more precise estimates of the timescale and dynamics of epidemic growth for subtypes 1a and 1b. These estimates support a massive expansion of the epidemics between 1940 and 1980, as opposed to the previous conjecture of a more continual and steady increase across the whole of the 20th century.



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