Medical Definition of Human T-lymphotropic virus

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Human T-lymphotropic virus: HTLV. A retrovirus that causes adult T-cell leukemia. HTLV is endemic (constantly present) in southern Japan and the Caribbean basin and sporadically in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the US.

Adult T-cell leukemia occurs in less than 0. 1% (1 IN 1500 HTLV carriers) of people with HTLV infection, with an average latency period (a long delay) of more than 30 years. HTLV can be transmitted by blood transfusions or tissue transplants, sexually, and by breast feeding (demonstrated in high endemic areas). The virus is also known as human T-lymphotropic virus-I (HTLV-I).

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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