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Virus Res. 2019 Jun;266:48-51. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Apr 15.

HIV co-infection in HTLV-1 carriers in Spain.

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Puerta de Hierro Research Institute & University Hospital, Madrid, Spain; Microbiology Department, CEU-San Pablo University, Madrid, Spain.
Hospital Vall d'Hebrón, Barcelona, Spain.
Complexo Hospitalario Universitario, Santiago, Spain.
Hospital Clínico Lozano Blesa, Zaragoza, Spain.
Hospital Son Llatzer, Mallorca, Spain.
Complejo Hospitalario Universitario, Orense, Spain.
UNIR Health Sciences School & Medical Center, Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:



Human retroviruses HIV and HTLV share transmission routes. HIV widely spread in Spain during the 80 s through injection drug use and sex, and nowadays HIV rates in Spain account for one of the largest in Europe. In contrast, HTLV-1 is not endemic in Spain, despite hosting huge numbers of migrants from highly endemic regions. Herein, we report the rate and main features of the HIV-HTLV co-infected population in Spain.


A national registry exists in Spain for HTLV since year 1989. Data from standardized case report forms and one centralized lab repository were reviewed, especially for the subset with HTLV-HIV co-infection.


Up to December 2018, a total of 369 individuals with HTLV-1 had been diagnosed in Spain. 64% of the population were females, and Latin American individuals accounted for 64.5%. Classical HTLV-associated illnesses were found in 12.7% (myelopathy) and 7.6% (leukemia). HIV coinfection was found in 12 (3.2%). Of those, 3 patients (25%) were female and 39 (75%) were of non-Spanish origin. All but two harbored HIV-1 subtype B, being non-B variants found in the two West Africans. Exposure had been sexual in most cases, being 4 homosexual men. Seven HTLV-HIV co-infected patients had developed AIDS and two had developed myelopathy. There was no evidence for increased HTLV-1 clinical pathogenicity due to HIV coinfection.


HIV coinfection is infrequent (<5%) among HTLV-1 carriers in Spain. More than half of co-infected patients come from Latin America. Sexual contact is the most frequent risk behavior, being MSM one third of cases. Late diagnosis explains the high rate (9/12) of clinical manifestations in our HIV-HTLV co-infected population.


AIDS; Adult T-cell leukemia; Antiretroviral therapy; Co-infection; Epidemiology; HIV; HTLV; Late diagnosis; Tropical spastic paraparesis

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