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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


CARNEIRO-PROIETTI, Anna Bárbara F. et al. HTLV in the Americas: challenges and perspectives. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.19, n.1, pp.44-53. ISSN 1680-5348.

The first description of the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) was made in 1980, followed closely by the discovery of HTLV-2, in 1982. Since then, the main characteristics of these viruses, commonly referred to as HTLV-1/2, have been thoroughly studied. Central and South America and the Caribbean are areas of high prevalence of HTLV-1 and HTVL-2 and have clusters of infected people. The major modes of transmission have been through sexual contact, blood, and mother to child via breast-feeding. HTLV-1 is associated with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/ TSP), and HTLV-associated uveitis as well as infectious dermatitis of children. More clarification is needed in the possible role of HTLV in rheumatologic, psychiatric, and infectious diseases. Since cures for ATL and HAM/TSP are lacking and no vaccine is available to prevent HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 transmission, these illnesses impose enormous social and financial costs on infected individuals, their families, and health care systems. For this reason, public health interventions aimed at counseling and educating high-risk individuals and populations are of vital importance. In the Americas this is especially important in the areas of high prevalence.

Keywords : Human T-lymphotropic virus 1; human T-lymphotropic virus 2; Retroviridae; RNA tumor viruses; blood donors; preventive medicine; Americas.

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