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Phylogenetic analysis has been widely used to test the a priori hypothesis of epidemiological clustering in suspected transmission chains of HIV-1. Among studies showing strong support for relatedness between HIV samples obtained from infected individuals, evidence for the direction of transmission between epidemiologically related pairs has been lacking. During transmission of HIV, a genetic bottleneck occurs, resulting in the paraphyly of source viruses with respect to those of the recipient. This paraphyly establishes the direction of transmission, from which the source can then be inferred. Here, we present methods and results from two criminal cases, State of Washington v Anthony Eugene Whitfield, case number 04-1-0617-5 (Superior Court of the State of Washington, Thurston County, 2004) and State of Texas v Philippe Padieu, case numbers 219-82276-07, 219-82277-07, 219-82278-07, 219-82279-07, 219-82280-07, and 219-82705-07 (219th Judicial District Court, Collin County, TX, 2009), which provided evidence that direction can be established from blinded case samples. The observed paraphyly from each case study led to the identification of an inferred source (i.e., index case), whose identity was revealed at trial to be that of the defendant.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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