Endemic Infection With HTLV-IIB in Venezuelan Indians: Molecular Characterization

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The peripheral blood of 41 Yaruro and Guahibo Indians from Venezuela was examined for HTLV antibodies and DNA. Twenty-five samples (61%) were found to be infected with HTLV-IIB. The sensitivities of the serologic and DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses were 80% and 96%, respectively. Epidemiologic studies supported both sexual and perinatal transmission of the virus. Sequence analyses of the HTLV-IIB strains from these Indians indicate that they are unique relative to HTLV-II detected in other groups of humans. HTLV-IIB-G2 isolated from a Guahibo Indian is the most divergent HTLV-IIB strain relative to the prototype HTLV-II NRA.

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