Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2023 Oct 23:tpmd230118. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.23-0118. Online ahead of print.
Mother to child transmission (MTCT) of human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-1 is associated with increased risk of adult T-cell leukemia and can be unrecognized without routine antenatal screening. We assessed the seroprevalence of HTLV-1/2 among pregnant women attending The University Hospital of the West Indies Antenatal Clinic, 2019, and validated a cost-effective strategy to screen antenatal clinic attendees for HTLV-1/2. Residual antenatal samples from 370 women were tested for HTLV-1/2 by chemiluminescence microparticle immunoassay (CMIA). Six samples were confirmed HTLV-1 positive by Western blot (none for HTLV-2) for a prevalence of 1.62%. Four mother-child pairs were able to be recruited for HTLV testing of children, with two children testing HTLV-1/2 positive. Medical records of HTLV-1-infected women revealed that all women breastfed, indicating an unrecognized risk for HTLV MTCT. To assess whether pooling of samples as a cost-reduction strategy could be introduced, we pooled all antenatal samples received between November and December 2021 into 12 pools of eight samples/pool. Two pools were CMIA positive, and de-pooling of samples identified two CMIA-positive samples (one per pool), both confirmed as HTLV-1 by Western blot. These results indicate that HTLV-1 remains prevalent in pregnant Jamaican women and that sample pooling can be a cost-effective strategy to limit MTCT in Jamaica.