Molecular epidemiology in the HIV and SARS-CoV-2 pandemics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose of review The aim of this review was to compare and contrast the application of molecular epidemiology approaches for the improved management and understanding of the HIV versus SARS-CoV-2 epidemics. Recent findings Molecular biology approaches, including PCR and whole genome sequencing (WGS), have become powerful tools for epidemiological investigation. PCR approaches form the basis for many high-sensitivity diagnostic tests and can supplement traditional contact tracing and surveillance strategies to define risk networks and transmission patterns. WGS approaches can further define the causative agents of disease, trace the origins of the pathogen, and clarify routes of transmission. When coupled with clinical datasets, such as electronic medical record data, these approaches can investigate co-correlates of disease and pathogenesis. In the ongoing HIV epidemic, these approaches have been effectively deployed to identify treatment gaps, transmission clusters and risk factors, though significant barriers to rapid or real-time implementation remain critical to overcome. Likewise, these approaches have been successful in addressing some questions of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and pathogenesis, but the nature and rapid spread of the virus have posed additional challenges. Summary Overall, molecular epidemiology approaches offer unique advantages and challenges that complement traditional epidemiological tools for the improved understanding and management of epidemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Opinion in HIV and AIDS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Contact tracing
  • HIV
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Sars-cov-2
  • Whole genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Virology
  • Immunology


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