Health: What is HTLV-1?

Photo Credits: CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There is an ancient virus that Imperial College’s National Centre for Retrovirology is calling a “distant cousin” of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1 and it is called HTLV-1 or Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1. Currently, HTLV-1 is wreaking havoc in Central Australia so much so that “doctors are now calling for greater efforts to stop the spread of infections,” CNN reports.

But what is HTLV-1 and what does it do, really?

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NLM NIH), the origins of HTLV-1 can be traced back to Andean mummies said to be 1,500 years old. It causes potentially fatal diseases like bronchiectasis, leukemia, lymphoma, and neurological disorders in addition to weakening our immune system. Other HTLV-1 related illnesses include “pulmonary diseases, certain cancers, eye inflammation, infective dermatitis, crusted scabies, and chronic low-grade immunosuppression.”

People can get infected with HTLV-1 through unprotected sex which is why it is considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). HTLV-1 can also spread from mother to child through breastfeeding, sharing of syringes and needles with infected people, and blood transfusion.

HTLV-1 was discovered earlier than HIV but that the latter, according to Dr. Robert Gallo, “got the most attention partly because HIV is more efficient at transmitting.” Dr. Gallo, by the way, is the director and co-founder of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and his discovery of HIV-1 is a landmark in the history of medicine. By chance, it was also Dr. Gallo’s laboratory that first detected HTLV-1 in 1979. Today, Dr. Gallo is prompting everyone to “make up for what we didn’t do before” and that, “we have to get attention to HTLV-1 quick.”

HTLV-1 is indeed a matter of utmost urgency. According to CNN, In Central Australia’s remote regions alone, the rate of infection among adults especially in the indigenous communities exceed 40%. Not to mention that today, there are approximately 20 million people infected with HTLV-1 and apart from Central Australia is “widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Japan” but there remained no cure, no treatment, and even no preventive vaccines against the HTLV-1 virus.


There are 9 comments

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  1. DLS245

    Since reading this article about HTLV-1 and web searching for more info about it has me wondering. Can a healthy HIV poz undetectable person and on meds as myself, contact the HTLV-1? I am wondering if the current HIV meds will suppress the HTLV-1 virus.

  2. Luigi Nonono

    There you go, proof positive that HIV is not the only thing to care about. Nor are std’s in general. Many other diseases are prevalent, particularly in the gay community. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are two such, overlooked in part because they mostly happen to women, and those who care about women, don’t care about gay men. If you’re going to give money to fight disease, make sure you give to organizations that don’t discriminate by illness or gender.

    • David

      You make good points, however; it sounds somewhat like you are putting fibro and cfs into the std category. I assume you did not intend it to be written to say this. I do that all the time and don’t realize it. For the record: Fibromyalgia and CFS are not stds. I like your comment about researching organizations which receive donations. Many use bogus charities as an excuse not to do their part in helping.

  3. Lamar

    Man, this is why I love this blog-spot on this site, you can really learn a lot. Which is why, more than ever “I keep it to myself”, I never really was one to bed-hop, fooling-around and just goin’ for broke are two different things, let alone “unprotected” anal-sex. And with all the other Std’s,
    I’m worried about giving/receiving oral as I like 69ing. Any type of frottage is how I roll/bounce hump these days, since people are just not getting it, man, “still having fun” as usual, in the usual ways… There’s just no discernment or discipline; not being responsible for yourselves or anyone for that matter.

    • Hunter0500

      Frotting … added that to the toolbox a while back. It’s a great option. Once you get the right amount of lube and the right amount of pressure (thighs work well) you’re good to go. And there aren’t the many considerations/issues that anal has.

  4. David Schwartz

    HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 are discussed in great detail in Robert Gallo’s book “Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer & the Human Retrovirus”. Anyone interested in the history of HTLV-1 and how Scientists worked to discover the Human Retrovirus would have no better resource. To suggest that this is “new” information is wrong. Gallo’s book came out in 1991! So there is 27 years after the fact of discovering HIV and other Retrovirus . . . and what does that mean for us today? We have medicine and STILL WORKING ON VACCINE. Back in the mid 1980s they said a Vaccine would only take a couple of years! They were wrong. It has taken decades to come up with life saving medication . . . but we still don’t have a cure. Why not? Technology is much more impressive than the old days of an early Apple Computer. We should be able to develop something that completely eradicates HIV. For instance, the docking point for HIV is so perfect to infect a cell . . that I have to wonder why can’t we develop something that “attracts” HIV to an imposter killer cell – HIV docks to that imposter and thereby gets destroyed by some mechanism. What is it that actually “attracts” HIV to a healthy T-Cell? Does HIV actually have a mind of its own, like some animal that knows to hunt for a certain type of kill for food? Does HIV have some kind of Pheromone that a healthy cell gets attracted to?

    • Jjinaz

      That is a great question and even better attack plan. I wish they would think more outside of the box when dealing with this stuff.

  5. David

    This article was longer and contained much more information. I wonder why they cut it short. I came back to reread parts of it. I’ve mentioned HLTV1 to many gay friends. None of them knew of it. All of them wanted to know more than I could say without making sure I was not giving out false information. This is a really positive part of Adam4Adam. If someone is reading this and can help-could we please have back the full article?

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