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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2003 Dec 15;34(5):527-31.

HTLV-I in the general population of Salvador, Brazil: a city with African ethnic and sociodemographic characteristics.

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  • 1Instituto de Saúde Coletiva/Universidade Federal da Bahia, Bahia, Brazil.


The city of Salvador has the highest prevalence of HTLV-I among blood donors in Brazil. To study the prevalence of HTLV-I among the general population of Salvador, 30 "sentinel surveillance areas" were selected for the investigation of various infectious diseases, and 1385 individuals within these areas were surveyed according to a simple random sample procedure. ELISA was used to screen plasma samples for antibodies to HTLV-I, and the positive samples were tested by a confirmatory assay (Western blotting). The overall prevalence of HTLV-I was 1.76% (23/1385). Infection rates were 1.2% for males and 2.0% for females. Specific prevalence demonstrated an increasing linear trend with age. No one younger than 13 years of age was infected. Multivariate analysis estimated adjusted odds ratios for the association of HTLV-I with age of 9.7 (3.3; 30.4) for females and 12.3 (1.47; 103.1) for males. Less education and income might be associated with HTLV-I infection in females. Phylogenetic analysis of the long terminal repeat fragments showed that most of the samples belonged to the Latin American cluster of the Transcontinental subgroup (Cosmopolitan subtype). For the entire city of Salvador, it is estimated that approximately 40000 individuals are infected with HTLV-I. Our results suggest multiple post-Colombian introductions of African HTLV-Ia strains in Salvador.

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