Scientific publications

Human T-lymphotropic virus-1 infection among Latin American pregnant women living in Spain

Nov 22, 2023 | Magazine: IJID Regions

Begoña Encinas  1 , Rafael Benito  2 , Silvia Rojo  3 , Gabriel Reina  4 , Natalia Montiel  5 , Antonio Aguilera  6 , José María Eiros  7 , Juan García-Costa  8 , Diego Ortega  9 , Irene Arco  10 , Araceli Hernánez-Batancor  11 , Vicente Soriano  12 , Carmen de Mendoza  13 ; Spanish HTLV Network

Objectives: Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) antenatal screening is not mandatory in Spain. Surveys conducted decades ago reported HTLV-1 seroprevalence rates of 0.2% among foreign pregnant women in Spain. The migrant flow to Spain from HTLV-1 endemic regions in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa has increased during the last decade. Currently, 25% of pregnant women in Spain are foreigners.

Methods: From January 2021 to October 2023 a cross-sectional study was carried out in all consecutive pregnant women attended at eleven Spanish clinics. A commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was used for screening of serum HTLV-1/2 antibodies. Reactive samples were confirmed by immunoblot.

Results: A total of 9813 pregnant women with a median age of 34 years-old were examined. Native Spaniards were 6977 (76.5%). Of 2147 foreigners (23.5%), 903566 (9.9%) were Latin Americans, 416 (4.5%) North Africans, 293 (3.2%) from Romania, and 196 (2.1%) from sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 47 samples were EIA reactive but only five were confirmed as HTLV-1 positive using immunoblot. Infected women came from Paraguay, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Peru. All but one were primigravida, with ages ranging from 20 to 33 years-old. One was HIV-1 positive, and another was infected with Chlamydia trachomatis.

Conclusion: The overall seroprevalence for HTLV-1 among pregnant women in Spain is 0.05% but rises ten-fold (0.55%) among Latin Americans. This rate is higher than in surveys conducted decades ago. Our results support that anti-HTLV testing should be part of antenatal screening in Spain in pregnant women coming from Latin America, as it is already done with Chagas disease.

CITATION  IJID Reg. 2023 Nov 22:10:146-149.  doi: 10.1016/j.ijregi.2023.11.010