Summary: Because HTLV-I, HTLV-2, and HIV share identical modes of transmission, simultaneous or subsequent infections with these retroviruses are to be expected. The population of Santos, the largest port in Latin America, includes large numbers of female commercial sex workers and intravenous drug users, presumably having been exposed to retroviral infection. To evaluate the seroprevalence of HTLV infection and their associated risk factors, a cross-sectional survey was carried out in 499 HIV-infected individuals from Santos, Brazil. HTLV testing consisted of enzyme immunoassays for serologic screening and confirmatory Western blot testing. Overall HTLV-I and HTLV-2 seroprevalences were 6.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.9-8.1) and 7.4% (95% CI, 5.1-9.7), respectively. Multivariate logistic regression for statistical analysis revealed HTLV-I infection to be independently associated with: intravenous drug use (IDU) (odds ratio [OR]. 2.99; 95% CI, 1.09-8.20), seropositivity to hepatitis C virus (HCV) (OR, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.02-9.01) and < 3 years of education (OR, 4.73; 95% CI, 1.56-14.41). HTLV-2 infection was associated with: IDU (OR, 3.22; 95% CI, 1.33-7.84), HCV seropositivity (OR, 5.40; 95% CI, 1.86-15.66) and nonwhite race (OR, 3.32; 95% CI, 1.58-7.00). Results indicate that HIV-infected individuals living in Santos are at similarly high risk of being exposed to HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. IDU constitutes the main risk factor for HTLV acquisition in this population, and there is no significant risk associated with sexual practice.
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