Today we’ll be discussing the seroprevalence of human T-lymphotropic viruses or HTLV among blood donors.
Here is Dr. Taylor, author of an editorial in the Journal of Infectious Diseases:
“HTLV is a human retrovirus; it was the first retrovirus to be discovered in humans in 1980 – predating HIV.”
HTLV may be transmitted by sexual intercourse, vertical transmission from mother-to-child, sharing needles or blood transfusion. There are two types of HTLV, defined as HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. The majority of infected individuals remain asymptomatic. However, HTLV-1 can cause T-cell leukemia or lymphoma and spastic paraparesis.
In the first study of HTLV seroprevalence in more than a decade, Dr. Murphy and his team analyzed over 2 million blood samples collected from first-time blood donors in the United States. They estimated HTLV seroprevalence during the past ten years.
Here is Dr. Murphy:
“Our data confirms the presence of a “birth cohort effect” for HTLV-2 infection, namely that most persons with this virus were infected as young adults during the drug use epidemic in the 1960s and 70s whereas younger generations, people born since then, have much lower prevalence.”
The study also showed that the HTLV prevalence has remained stable at 22 infections per 100,000 first-time blood donors. This is 3 to 5 fold lower than the general population likely since blood banks exclude unhealthy or risky candidates. HTLV seropositivity was associated with female gender, older age and nonwhite race or ethnicity.
Again here is Dr. Taylor:
“What was striking to me was not only the prevalence across the country but there are pockets within states and within districts of states where the prevalence is much higher than elsewhere. We cannot take just a global view even within a single country.”
The study emphasizes the importance of ongoing HTLV screening of blood and organ donors, but also the need to identify patients with HTLV infection so that the associated diseases can be identified early and proper treatment initiated.
We’ll be back with another edition of Transfusion News on December 15. Thanks for joining us.
1. Chang YB, Kaidarova Z, Hindes D, Bravo M, Kiely N, Kamel H, Dubay D, Hoose B, Murphy EL: Seroprevalence and demographic determinants of human t-lymphotropic virus type 1 and 2 infections among first-time blood donors–united states, 2000-2009. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 2013