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April 25, 1986

Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type III Infection in a Cohort of Homosexual Men in New York City

Author Affiliations

From the Wolf Szmuness Laboratory of Epidemiology (Drs Stevens, Taylor, and Zang and Messrs Morrison and Harley) and the Laboratory of immunogenetics (Drs Rodriguez de Cordoba, Bacino, and Rubinstein), Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, New York Blood Center, New York; the Biotech Research Laboratories, Inc, Rockville, Md (Drs Ting and Bodner); Litton Bionetics, Inc, Kensington, Md (Dr Sarngadharan); and the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Gallo).

JAMA. 1986;255(16):2167-2172. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370160065028

Using blood samples collected since 1978, we investigated the epidemiology of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III), the etiologic agent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, in a group of 378 homosexually active men who have resided in New York City since the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic began. The anti-HTLV-III prevalence was 6.6% in sera from 1978 or 1979, and the subsequent annual incidence of seroconversion among susceptible men ranged between 5.5% and 10.6%. The highest incidences were in recent years, even though these men reported a decrease in their sexual activity during this time. These data demonstrate the continuing risk of HTLV-III infections in the homosexual population studied and emphasize the need for more effective prevention of transmission. The year during which antibody was first present was the only factor identified that was associated with altered cell-mediated immunity in antibody-positive men. Men who became antibody positive in 1981 or earlier currently had significantly lower OKT4/OKT8 ratios than did those who seroconverted more recently. Further follow-up will be necessary to establish the reasons for this association.

(JAMA 1986;255:2167-2172)