In DepthInfectious Diseases

A call to arms against the other retrovirus

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 844
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6391.844

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The discovery of the first human retrovirus, human T-cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1), in 1980 was a minor scientific sensation. But HTLV-1 was soon eclipsed by another retrovirus that would go on to kill more than 35 million people and keep generations of scientists busy: HIV. In a 10 May open letter to the World Health Organization, 59 virologists, epidemiologists, and patient advocates call for a new global effort to eradicate HTLV-1, which infects millions and causes cancer and several other diseases. Just like HIV, HTLV-1 spreads through blood, semen, and breast milk, and the letter argues that the same testing and prevention strategies used against HIV could stop HTLV-1.