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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2012 Feb;28(2):139-47. doi: 10.1089/AID.2011.0342.

Retroviral coinfections: HIV and HTLV: taking stock of more than a quarter century of research.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.


Retroviral coinfections with HIV-1 and HTLV-1 or with HIV-1 and HTLV-2 occur with variable frequencies throughout the world with the highest prevalence in large metropolitan areas in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. The recognition that retroviral coinfections exist dates back to the discovery of HIV-1 over 25 years ago. Despite the large body of published information regarding the biological and clinical significance of retroviral coinfections, controversy throughout several decades of research was fueled by several flawed epidemiologic studies and anecdotal reports that were not always supported with ample statistical and scientific evidence. However, the growing consensus obtained from recent systematic and well-devised research provides support for at least three conclusions: (1) HIV-1 and HTLV-1 coinfections are often seen in the context of patients with high CD4(+) T cell counts presenting with lymphoma or neurological complications; (2) HIV-1 and HTLV-2 coinfections have been linked in some cases to a "long term nonprogressor" phenotype; and (3) differential function and/or overexpression of the HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 Tax proteins likely play a pivotal role in the clinical and immunologic manifestations of HIV/HTLV-1 and -2 coinfections. This review will recount the chronology of work regarding retroviral coinfections from 1983 through the present.

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