Human T-cell lymphotropic virus in a population of pregnant women and commercial sex workers in South Western Nigeria

  • J C Forbi
  • A B Odetunde
Keywords: HTLV, prevalence, pregnant women, commercial sex workers, Nigeria.


Background: Over 20 million persons are infected with HTLV-I/II globally.The virus is endemic in Africa and it is also transmitted sexually. Continued identification of high risk groups is important for the control of the disease. Objectives:To determine the prevalence of HTLV infection amongst two highly sexually active groups, pregnant women and CSWs in South Western Nigeria. Methods: Serum samples were tested for the presence of HTLV-I/II antibodies using the Vironostika® HTLV-I/II micro ELISA system. Results:A total of 364 serum samples collected from pregnant women, commercial sex worker (CSW) and secondary school students (control group) from Ibadan.While only 4 (5.1%) of 78 secondary school students (average age: 13years) were reactive for HTLV infection, 20 (16.7%) of 120 pregnant women (average age: 26years) and 38 (22.9%) of 166 CSWs (average age: 23years) were found to have antibodies against HTLV in their sera.The results of this study thus show that HTLV infection is active in the population although higher in pregnant women (although not statistically significant) and CSWs (p>0.05). Pregnant women and CSWs are therefore at a higher risk of HTLV transmission than other members of the population. Conclusion: Routine screening for HTLV infection may go a long way to understanding the epidemiology of HTLV infection in Nigeria and subsequently provide tools for its prevention and control.

Keywords: HTLV, prevalence, pregnant women, commercial sex workers, Nigeria.

African Health Sciences Vol. 7 (3) 2007: pp. 129-132

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eISSN: 1680-6905