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J Infect Dis. 1991 Feb;163(2):252-6.

Human T lymphotropic virus type II (HTLV-II) infection in a cohort of New York intravenous drug users: an old infection?

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Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.


To identify risk factors for human T lymphotropic virus type II (HTLV-II) infection in intravenous drug users (IVDUs), participants in a longitudinal study of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in a New York methadone maintenance program were studied. Of 270 participants tested for HTLV-I/II, 21 (8%) were seropositive. Of those, 15 (71%) had HTLV-II-specific sequences by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and 1 (5%) had both HTLV-I- and -II-specific sequences; 3 persons with indeterminate serologic results were also PCR-positive for HTLV-II. HTLV-II infection was significantly associated with older age but was not predicted by sex, race, socioeconomic status, transfusion history, or HIV infection status. Behavioral factors since 1978, such as duration and frequency of intravenous drug use, needle sharing, visits to shooting galleries, or number of sex partners, were also not associated with HTLV-II infection. These findings are in contrast with the association of these risk factors with HIV in this group and suggest that, among IVDUs, HTLV-II is an older endemic infection that is less efficiently transmitted than HIV.

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