Seroepidemiology of HTLV-I/II in universal screening of blood donations in France

AIDS. 1993 Jun;7(6):841-7. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199306000-00013.


Objective: To evaluate the serological and epidemiological characteristics of HTLV-I/II-positive blood donors in continental France during the first 6 months of universal screening of blood donations (n = 1,816,927).

Method: A collaborative investigation of all confirmed anti-HTLV-I/II-positive samples reported by blood transfusion centres was performed. Seventy-three out of 77 reported samples were retested at two reference laboratories. Epidemiological data on risk factors were compiled.

Results: Of the 73 retested samples, 66 were confirmed to be HTLV-I-positive and one to be HTLV-II-positive; six samples were designated false-positive, mainly because of non-specific reactivity to recombinant gp21 in Western blot. The overall prevalence of HTLV-I/II in continental France is 0.039 per thousand. The main risk factor identified for HTLV-I infection was directly (origin) or indirectly (heterosexual contact) linked to endemicity in the Caribbean. The cost per case of avoided contamination in the 6-month period of this study was 1.36 million French francs.

Conclusions: Sixty-two per cent of HTLV-I/II-infected blood donations would not have been discarded through the previous targeted HTLV screening or through other mandatory tests, including anti-hepatitis B core. To avoid false-positive results, we propose a new algorithm of diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • Blotting, Western
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Deltaretrovirus Antibodies / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • HTLV-I Infections / blood
  • HTLV-I Infections / epidemiology*
  • HTLV-I Infections / prevention & control
  • HTLV-II Infections / blood
  • HTLV-II Infections / epidemiology*
  • HTLV-II Infections / prevention & control
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / immunology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 2 / immunology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 2 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / economics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Proviruses / isolation & purification
  • Radioimmunoprecipitation Assay
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Viremia / microbiology
  • West Indies / ethnology


  • DNA, Viral
  • Deltaretrovirus Antibodies