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February 6, 1991

HTLV Seroreactivity in Italian Intravenous Drug Addicts Is Primarily due to HTLV-II Infection

JAMA. 1991;265(5):597. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460050051018

To the Editor. —  Over the last 5 years we have tested more than 3000 serum samples, collected from subjects at risk for retroviral infections, for the presence of antibodies to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I).1 Reactivity was observed in approximately 10% of samples using viral lysate-based assays, but HTLV-I seropositivity could not be confirmed by Western blot analysis. The immunoreactivity was limited to the gag-encoded p19 and p24 proteins with varying intensity of the bands. Following the US Public Health Service guidelines for HTLV-I seropositivity,2 all these samples were classified as HTLV-I indeterminate.We further investigated HTLV reactivity in 152 Italian intravenous drug addicts (IVDA) using synthetic antigens. All subjects were seropositive to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and attended a methadone maintenance clinic in the northwest district of Milan. Most had a history of sexual promiscuity, frequent needle sharing, and long-term drug addiction.