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Relationship between human T lymphotropic virus (HTLV) type 1/2 viral burden and clinical and treatment parameters among patients with HIV type 1 and HTLV-1/2 coinfection.

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BACKGROUND: Human T lymphotropic virus types 1 (HTLV-1) and 2 (HTLV-2) are frequent copathogens among individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The long-term effects of coinfection are unknown, and little information exists regarding how levels of HTLV-1/2 viral burden are affected by antiretroviral medications. METHODS: Factors associated with HTLV-1/2 viral burden were examined in patients with HIV-HTLV-1/2 coinfection. A total of 72 subjects were evaluated. The variables analyzed included HTLV-1/2 proviral load, HTLV-1/2 tax/rex mRNA expression, HIV load, HTLV-1/2 viral antigen detection in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) cultures, T cell subsets, demographic variables (age, race, sex, and reported use of injection drugs), and administration of highly active antiretroviral therapy. RESULTS: An HTLV-1/2 proviral DNA copy number >20,000 copies/10(6) PBMCs was significantly associated with the following variables: (1) a positive HTLV-1 Western blot test result, (2) a positive HTLV-1/2 PBMC culture result, (3) a positive tax/rex mRNA result, (4) an HIV load <10,000 copies/mL, and (5) higher CD4 cell counts among subjects with HIV-HTLV-1 coinfection. There was no correlation between HTLV-1/2 proviral copy number or HTLV-1/2 tax/rex mRNA detection and administration of antiretroviral therapy. CONCLUSIONS: HTLV-1/2 proviral burden was significantly higher among patients with HIV-HTLV-1 coinfection than among patients with HIV-HTLV-2 coinfection. Highly active antiretroviral therapy may be of limited value in controlling virus expression of HTLV-1/2 in patients with HIV-HTLV-1/2 coinfection.

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