- Autores: Abecasis AB, Pingarilho M, Vandamme AM
- Ano de Publicação: 2018
- Journal: AIDS
- Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29280759
HIV Phylogenetic analysis: a literature review
The authors performed a literature review to analyse HIV phylogenetic analyses methods as a forensic tool.
Because HIV is a fast-evolving virus, HIV genomic sequences of several individuals can be used to investigate whether they belong to a transmission network. Since the infamous ‘Florida dentist case’ in the beginning of the 1990s, phylogenetic analyses has been recurrently used in court settings as a forensic tool in HIV transmission investigations. For example cases where one or more complainants allege that a defendant has unlawfully infected them with HIV.
Such cases can arise both in the context of HIV-specific criminal laws – in countries where transmission of HIV infection is specifically criminalized – or in the context of general laws. For example, by applying physical or sexual assault laws to HIV-related cases. Although phylogenetic analysis as a forensic technique for HIV transmission investigations has become common in several countries. Thus, the methodologies have not yet been standardized, sometimes giving rise to unwarranted conclusions.
In this literature review, the authors revisit HIV court case investigations published in the scientific literature. They also identified methodological aspects for the application and standardization of phylogenetic analyses methods as a forensic tool. Phylogenetic methodologies are improving quickly. Recently, phylogenetic relatedness, directionality of transmission and timing of nodes in the tree are used to assess whether the phylogenetic transmission analysis is consistent with or contradicting the charges.
The authors found that there has been a lack of consistency between methods used in court case investigations. Moreover, that this is essential to define guidelines to be used by phylogenetic forensic experts in HIV transmission cases in court.