Seroepidemiology of HTLV-III antibody in Danish homosexual men: prevalence, transmission, and disease outcome

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984 Sep 8;289(6445):573-5. doi: 10.1136/bmj.289.6445.573.


Sera taken from 250 Danish homosexual men in December 1981 as part of a prospective study of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were examined for the presence of HTLV-III antibody with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibody was present in 22 (8.8%) of the men. Seropositivity was most strongly associated with sexual exposure to men in the United States (relative risk 3.5; p less than 0.007). Increased frequency of anal receptive intercourse was also independently associated with seropositivity (p less than 0.05), but age, years of homosexual experience, number of homosexual partners, and use of nitrite inhalant were not independent risk factors. The frequency of seroconversion from absence to presence of HTLV-III antibody appeared to be about 1% a month in this community during December 1981 to February 1983. Of the 22 men who were originally seropositive, two (9%) subsequently developed AIDS as defined by the Centre for Disease Control and two (9%) others the AIDS related complex. Blood was taken in addition from two of the men to develop AIDS earliest in Denmark (diagnosed 1981) at the same time as the initial survey in 1981; both were seropositive. The spread of HTLV-III from high to low risk areas and the subsequent appearance of illnesses related to AIDS in the seropositive group support the hypothesis that HTLV-III is causally related to the development of AIDS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis*
  • Deltaretrovirus / immunology*
  • Denmark
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Travel


  • Antibodies, Viral