Like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human T-cell leukaemia/ lymphoma viruses (HTLV) I and II are persistent retroviral infections. Once infected, the lifetime risk of developing the HTLV-associated diseases, malignant or inflammatory, is low (approximately 5%). For those affected, however, these diseases are debilitating, with few treatment options and a poor prognosis. Surveillance of HTLV infections by the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) has been ongoing since serological testing became available in 1986. Testing of blood donations in England and Wales commenced during August 2002 and awareness of HTLV infection is likely to increase. Therefore, a baseline retrospective review of cases prior to 2002 was conducted. The age and sex distribution of identified HTLV cases has differed little over time. Eighty-five per cent of individuals were linked to the Caribbean by birthplace or ethnicity. Though HTLV infection is chronic and incurable, preventive measures are possible. Improved surveillance is needed to support effective prevention activities.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Communicable disease and public health / PHLS|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2004|