Seroprevalence and epidemiological correlates of HTLV-I infection in U.S. blood donors

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Science  29 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4852, pp. 643-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.2896386


Screening for human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) antibodies was performed on sera from 39,898 blood donors at eight blood centers in geographically distinct areas of the United States. Ten donors (0.025 percent) showed evidence of HTLV-I seropositivity by enzyme immunoassays; this was confirmed by protein immunoblot and radioimmunoprecipitation. Seroprevalence rates ranged from 0 to 0.10 percent at the locations sampled, with HTLV-I antibodies found predominantly in donors from the southeastern and southwestern United States. Matched case-control interviews and laboratory studies were performed on five seropositive women and two seropositive men who participated in an identity-linked collection of sera from a subset of 33,893 donors at six of the eight blood centers. Four of the women and both men are black; one woman is Caucasian. Four of the seven seropositive individuals admitted to prior intravenous drug abuse or sexual contact with an intravenous drug user. Sexual contact with native inhabitants of an HTLV-I endemic area was the only identified risk factor for one male. The distribution of HTLV-I antibodies in this U.S. blood donor sample corroborates the previously reported epidemiology of this agent and suggests that additional donor screening measures, including the testing of donated blood for HTLV-I markers, may be necessary to prevent the spread of HTLV-I to transfusion recipients.