The seroepidemiology of human T-lymphotropic viruses: Types I and II in Europe: A prospective study of pregnant women

Graham P. Taylor, Monique Bodéus, Françoise Courtois, Georg Pauli, Annarosa Del Mistro, Ana Machuca, Elizabeth Padua, Soren Andersson, Patrick Goubau, Luigi Chieco-Bianchi, Vincent Soriano, Joliette Coste, Anthony E. Ades, Jonathan N. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Up to 20 million persons are infected with the human retroviruses human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-I and HTLV-II globally. Most data on the seroprevalence of HTLV-I and HTLV-II in Europe are from studies of low-risk blood donors or high-risk injection drug users (IDUs). Little is known about the general population. Methods: A prospective anonymous study of HTLV-I and HTLV-II seroprevalence among 234,078 pregnant women in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom was conducted. Maternal antibody status was determined by standard methods using sera obtained for routine antenatal infection screens or eluted from infant heel prick dried blood spots obtained for routine neonatal metabolic screens. Results: Anti-HTLV-I/II antibodies were detected and confirmed in 96 pregnant women (4.4 per 10,000, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.5-5.2). Of these, 73 were anti-HTLV-I, 17 were anti-HTLV-II, and 6 were specifically anti-HTLV but untyped. The seroprevalence ranged from 0.7 per 10,000 in Germany to 11.5 per 10,000 in France. Conclusions: Pregnant women better reflect the general population than blood donors or IDUs. The seroprevalence of HTLV-I and HTLV-II in Western Europe is 6-fold higher among pregnant women (4.4 per 10,000) than among blood donors (0.07 per 10,000). These data provide a robust baseline against which changes in HTLV-I and HTLV-II seroprevalence in Europe can be measured.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Epidemiology
  • HTLV-I
  • Pregnant women
  • Western Europe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology


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