Human T-lymphotropic virus-1 infection among Latin American pregnant women living in Spain

by | Feb 2, 2024 | Publications

IJID Reg. 2023 Nov 22;10:146-149. doi: 10.1016/j.ijregi.2023.11.010. eCollection 2024 Mar.


OBJECTIVES: Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) antenatal screening is not mandatory in Spain. Surveys conducted decades ago reported HTLV-1 seroprevalence rates of 0.2% among foreign pregnant women in Spain. The migrant flow to Spain from HTLV-1 endemic regions in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa has increased during the last decade. Currently, 25% of pregnant women in Spain are foreigners.

METHODS: From January 2021 to October 2023 a cross-sectional study was carried out in all consecutive pregnant women attended at eleven Spanish clinics. A commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was used for screening of serum HTLV-1/2 antibodies. Reactive samples were confirmed by immunoblot.

RESULTS: A total of 9813 pregnant women with a median age of 34 years-old were examined. Native Spaniards were 6977 (76.5%). Of 2147 foreigners (23.5%), 903566 (9.9%) were Latin Americans, 416 (4.5%) North Africans, 293 (3.2%) from Romania, and 196 (2.1%) from sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 47 samples were EIA reactive but only five were confirmed as HTLV-1 positive using immunoblot. Infected women came from Paraguay, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Peru. All but one were primigravida, with ages ranging from 20 to 33 years-old. One was HIV-1 positive, and another was infected with Chlamydia trachomatis.

CONCLUSION: The overall seroprevalence for HTLV-1 among pregnant women in Spain is 0.05% but rises ten-fold (0.55%) among Latin Americans. This rate is higher than in surveys conducted decades ago. Our results support that anti-HTLV testing should be part of antenatal screening in Spain in pregnant women coming from Latin America, as it is already done with Chagas disease.

PMID:38304758 | PMC:PMC10831283 | DOI:10.1016/j.ijregi.2023.11.010

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