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AIDS Rev. 2004 Jul-Sep;6(3):144-54.

The epidemiology and disease outcomes of human T-lymphotropic virus type II.

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  • 1Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.


Human T-lymphotropic virus type II (HTLV-II) is a human retrovirus which is endemic in Amerindian and pygmy tribes. Molecular subtypes show geographic segregation consistent with an ancient origin of this virus within humans in Africa or South America. More recently, injection drug users in the United States and Europe have become infected with HTLV-II, and secondary sexual transmission has introduced the virus at low levels into the general population and blood donors. HTLV-II has been linked with a spastic paraparesis called HTLV-associated myelopathy / tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), and perhaps with other neurological syndromes. It is also associated with an increased incidence of pneumonia and bronchitis, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, and perhaps with increased mortality. Except for a few cases of cutaneous lymphoma in patients coinfected with HIV, there is no evidence that HTLV-II causes lymphoproliferative disease. HTLV-II and HIV coinfection has not been proven to alter the course of HIV disease, but such patients may have altered levels of CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, and antiretroviral therapy may paradoxically increase HTLV-II proviral load.

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