Infection with human T lymphotropic virus (HTLV), although asymptomatic in most cases, can lead to severe illnesses, such as adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma or myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis. HTLV can be transmitted by whole-blood (WB) transfusion. The prevalence of HTLV among blood donor populations has not been characterized in Vietnam, although the screening has been partially implemented on voluntary basis since 2016. To determine the seroprevalence of HTLV-1/2 among blood donors, a total of 14,819 healthy blood donors in northern, central, and southern Vietnam and 1,003 samples from hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg), anti-hepatitis C (anti-HCV), or HIV Ag/Ab reactive blood donors were screened for anti-HTLV-1/2 antibodies by a chemiluminescence immunoassay using the Abbott ARCHITECT rHTLV-I/II assay. The anti-HTLV-1/2 repeat reactive (RR) samples were further tested by immunoblot (IB) method using MP Biomedicals HTLV Blot 2.4 for confirmation and differentiation of HTLV-1/2 infection. Proviral HTLV subgenomic amplification of the gag and tax regions was performed on the available WB RR samples (N = 11) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Among 14,819 blood donors, 34 samples (0.23%) were RR for anti-HTLV-1/2 antibodies, but only 1 case was confirmed HTLV-2 positive (0.0067%) and 5 cases were classified as indeterminate (0.034%) by IB. The RR rate was 0.39% among HBsAg/anti-HCV/HIV reactive sample groups, but none of them was confirmed by IB. Subgenomic PCR failed to amplify proviral DNA from WB samples of 11 RR samples. HTLV-1/2 prevalence was found to be low among blood donors in the study. Continued vigilance remains essential to maintain a low transfusion-transmitted risk in Vietnam.
Keywords: HTLV; Vietnam; seroprevalence.