HTLV infection in persons with sexually transmitted diseases in Spain

by | Dec 25, 2023 | Publications

Front Immunol. 2023 Dec 7;14:1277793. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1277793. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND: HTLV-1 infection is a neglected disease, despite estimates of 10 million people infected worldwide and producing life-threatening illnesses in 10% of carriers. Sexual transmission is the main route of contagion. However, HTLV-1 is not listed among sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

METHODS: Serum from all consecutive individuals who had attended six STI clinics across Spain during the last 12 months were tested for HTLV antibodies using a commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Reactive samples were confirmed by immunoblot.

RESULTS: A total of 2,524 samples were examined. The majority (1,936; 76.7%) belonged to men, of whom 676 (34.9%) were men who have sex with men (MSM) receiving HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis. Although native Spaniards predominated (1,470; 58.2%), up to 593 (23.5%) came from Latin America and 139 (5.5%) were African. A total of 26 individuals were initially EIA reactive and immunoblot confirmed 5 as HTLV-1 and 7 as HTLV-2. All but one HTLV-1+ case came from Latin America. Three were men and two were women. Among Latin Americans, the HTLV-1 seroprevalence was 0.67%. In contrast, all seven HTLV-2+ were native Spaniards and former injection drug users, and all but one were HIV+.

CONCLUSION: The rate of HTLV infection among individuals with STIs in Spain is 0.5%, which is greater than in the general population. These results support the introduction of universal HTLV screening in persons who attend clinics for STIs.

PMID:38143748 | PMC:PMC10740202 | DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2023.1277793

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