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Computer Simulations Predict the Spread of HIV


Principal decay of paraphyletic signal.

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have found that computer simulations can accurately predict the transmission of HIV across populations.

Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers demonstrated that computer models can accurately predict the spread of HIV across populations.

The models were aligned with actual DNA data from a global public HIV database containing more than 840,000 HIV sequences.

Los Alamos' Thomas Leitner says the team "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."

The researchers used phylogenetic methods, studying evolutionary relationships in HIV's genetic code to evaluate its transmission mechanisms. They learned that certain phylogenetic "family tree" patterns correlated to the DNA data from 955 pairs of people in which the virus transmitter and recipient were known.

The team plans to develop public health computational tools to help state health agencies track HIV and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns.

From Los Alamos National Laboratory
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