Human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) in England and Wales, 2004 to 2013: Testing and diagnoses

G. Ireland*, Sara Croxford, Jennifer Tosswill, R. Raghu, K. Davison, P. Hewitt, R. Simmons, G. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) infection has been under enhanced surveillance in England and Wales since 2002, however, little is known about testing patterns. Using data from two surveillance systems held at Public Health England, we described HTLV antibody testing patterns between 2008 and 2013 and the demographic and clinical characteristics of persons diagnosed with HTLV in England and Wales between 2004 and 2013. An increase in HTLV testing was observed in England between 2008 and 2013 (3,581 to 7,130). Most tests (82%; 7,597/9,302) occurred within secondary care, 0.5% (48/9,302) of persons were reactive for HTLV antibodies and 0.3% (27/9,302) were confirmed positive. Increasing age and female sex were predictors of a reactive HTLV screen and confirmed diagnosis. Testing in primary care including sexual health and antenatal services was infrequent. Between 2004 and 2013, 858 people were diagnosed with HTLV, most of whom were female (65%; 549/851), of black Caribbean ethnicity (60%), not born in the United Kingdom (72%; 369/514) and asymptomatic at diagnosis (45%; 267/595). Despite increased testing, the epidemiology and clinical features of those diagnosed with HTLV have remained consistent. Apart from donor screening, testing for HTLV infection remains uncommon, except to diagnose associated disease.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2017

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© 2017, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). All rights reserved.

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