Human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV-I)
is known to be associated with certain hematologic malignancies, and a related virus, HTLV-III/LAV, might be the cause of AIDS. Some persons with AIDS have had evidence of HTLV-I infection. Unrelated to these findings, it has been suggested that HTLV-I is transmitted via blood products. We therefore evaluated the serologic status to the HTLV-I core antigen p24 of 48 persons with hemophilia (Hem A) receiving factor concentrate therapy (a group at risk for AIDS), 49 persons with beta-thalassemia major (Thal) receiving frozen packed red blood cells therapy (FPRC), 26 patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) receiving FPRC, and 18 persons not receiving any blood products. All participants were clinically well; only one had a risk factor other than hemophilia for AIDS, and all were from New York City, an area with a high incidence of AIDS. No Hem A or nontransfused persons had serum antibody to HTLV core p24 antigen; three with Thal and one with SCA were antibody-positive. These results were confirmed by both radioimmunoprecipitation and Western blot techniques. Positive serology did not correlate with any immune findings or quantity of blood products used. These data support that HTLV-I is preferentially transmitted through cellular blood products and that it is an infection for which cellular blood product recipients in at least some areas of the United States are at risk. Concentrate products appear free of transmission risk relative to cellular blood products, but we cannot be certain that this safety is absolute. The public health implications of blood product transmission of HTLV-I merit active, long-term investigation.
Jason JM, McDougal JS, Cabradilla C, Kalyanaraman VS, Evatt BL
Am. J. Hematol. 1985 Oct;20(2):129-37