Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Media reports appear again on HTLV-1 in developing world, a cancer-causing retrovirus distantly related to HIV

In the last few days, there have appeared some scattered media reports about the HTLV-I (or HTLV-1) virus, which is a retrovirus distantly related to HIV, which causes AIDS.  Remember that in the 1980s HIV was called HTLV-III for a time.

The virus causes nervous system damage and sometime causes lymphomas or leukemias of the T-cells. These had been documented in the developing world (especially Japan, in the aborigine sections of Australia, in Peru and Andean areas, and the Caribbean) in the early 80s before HIV was discovered. The disease seems to put the immune system into temporary overdrive, leading to autoimmunity and then eventual immune dysfunction, leading to some of the same opportunistic infections seen in AIDS.

The disease seems to be spread by blood contact, much like HIV, with emphasis on mother to child, needles, and sexual contact, usually heterosexual.

What would be interesting to wonder is if the rampant HIV epidemic in Africa could be partly related to this virus, too.  Also, would similar medications (protease inhibitors) work?

The only really recent article that turned up in the search engines was on Wise Geek, here. (MSN-Bing showed this reference.)

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