High Endemicity of Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Among Pregnant Women in Peru

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Abstract

Summary:

Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1(HTLV-1) is associated with adult T-cell leukemia, tropical spastic paraparesis, and other immune-mediated diseases. There are reports of groups with high prevalences of HTLV-1 infection in Peru, but there is limited knowledge of the epidemiology of infection or which routes of infection are most important. We studied 2492 women presenting to a large maternity hospital in Lima for prenatal, delivery, or abortion services. HTLV-1 seropositivity was confirmed in 42 women (1.7%; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-2.2). Seroprevalence increased with age but did not vary by region of birth or recency of migration to Lima. Age greater than 30 years and sexual intercourse before 20 years of age were strongly and independently associated with infection. History of abortion and history of transfusion were of borderline significance. Women whose male partner had a characteristic that might be a marker for risk of sexually transmitted infections were also more likely to be infected. HTLV-1 is common among Peruvians throughout the country and is maintained by a low level of neonatally acquired infection that is amplified by sexual transmission. In addition to screening of the blood supply, instituted in 1997, programs designed to reduce neonatal and sexual transmission should be effective.

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