School of Public Health
Phylodynamics of HIV and hepatitis C among PWID in India
People who inject drugs (PWID) bear a high burden of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infections worldwide. Understanding the complex and multi-dimensional risks for continued spread of HIV and HCV requires not only a focus on the individual, but also structural and network-level factors which drive transmission. Although we have an established understanding of the epidemiology of these diseases and how they are transmitted, we do not fully understand key aspects of transmission dynamics in real-world networks. A better understanding of these dynamics within networks of PWID will better inform public health programs as well as guide targeted interventions to more efficiently prevent disease and interrupt transmission in response to the opioid epidemic. Traditional questionnaire-based methods to evaluate this and to reconstruct viral transmission chains are subject to bias and cannot fully capture all the nuanced aspects of transmission dynamics. Our group has been working to integrate viral sequencing and phylogenetics with epidemiologic and network data collected from 12 cross-sectional studies of PWIDs in India to better understand HIV/HCV phylodynamics and the factors associated with disease transmission across differing stages of HIV and drug-use epidemics. A molecular epidemiology approach such as this facilitates the identification of key risk factors within the network that can be prioritized in HIV care clinics and public health programs while using genetics to overcome the biases of more traditional methods in infectious disease epidemiology.
PI Mentor: Shruti Mehta