Human T-lymphotropic virus types 1 and 2 are rare among intravenous drug users in Eastern Europe

Ene Ly Jõgeda, Radko Avi, Merit Pauskar, Eveli Kallas, Tõnis Karki, Don Des Jarlais, Anneli Uusküla, Irja Lutsar, Kristi Huik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In Europe, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) type 2 mainly occurs among intravenous drug users (IDUs) with prevalence up to 15% and HTLV-1 among general population with prevalence <. 1%. However, there is no data regarding the prevalence of HTLV-1 or HTLV-2 in Eastern European IDUs population where HIV prevalence is relatively high. We aimed to determine the prevalence and genotypes of HTLV-1/HTLV-2 among IDUs and healthy volunteers in Estonia. Methods: The study included 345 IDUs and 138 healthy volunteers. The presence of HTLV-1/HTLV-2 was determined by nested PCR; positive and negative controls were used in every PCR run. Results: The analysed IDUs resembled the IDUs of HIV epidemic in Estonia: mainly male (79%) with median age of 30 years (interquartile range [IQR] 25-34), and prolonged duration of intravenous drug usage (11 years; IQR 7-14). The prevalence exposure to blood-borne viral infections was high - 50% were HIV positive, 88% hepatitis C positive, 67% hepatitis B positive. Of IDUs, 64% reported receptive needle sharing in the past and 18% at least once a month during last six months. None of the IDUs carried HTLV-1 but there was a case of HTLV-2 (prevalence 0.3%; 95% CI 0.1-1.6). All healthy volunteers were HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 PCR negative. Conclusion: This is the first study investigating the prevalence of HTLV-1/HTLV-2 among high risk population and healthy volunteers in Eastern European region. Our results suggest that despite other widely spread blood-borne infections (e.g. HIV, HBV, HCV) HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 are rare among IDUs in Estonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-85
Number of pages3
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Blood-borne infection
  • Co-infection
  • HIV
  • HTLV-1/2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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