Computer simulations can predict the spread of HIV: Study

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Researchers have found that computer simulations can accurately predict the transmission of Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) across populations, aiding in preventing the

The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, found that the simulations were consistent with actual DNA data obtained from a global public database.

“We looked for special genetic patterns that we had seen in the simulations, and we can confirm that these patterns also hold for real data covering the entire epidemic,” said from the in the US.

is particularly interesting to study in this manner as the mutates rapidly and constantly within each infected individual, the said.

The changing “genetic signatures” of its code provide a path that can be followed in determining the origin and time frame of an infection, the study found.

The rapid mutational capability of the is useful for the epidemiological sleuthing, but is also one of the features that makes it so difficult to tackle with a vaccine.

For the study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods, examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s to evaluate how is transmitted.

The research team found that certain phylogenetic “family tree” patterns correlated to the DNA data from 955 pairs of people, in which the transmitter and recipient of the virus were known.

“These HIV transmissions had known linkage based on epidemiological information such as partner studies, mother-to-child transmission, pairs identified by contact tracing, and criminal cases,” the researchers said.

The researchers also plan to develop public computational tools to help the agencies track the and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns.



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