HTLV-I is not new to Australia but a proper strategic response to it would be

Recent news stories from the Gaurdian and elsewhere have highlighted the serious issue of Aboriginal Australians living in Central Australia (the generalised region, not a State or Territory of Australia) infected with the retrovirus, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) 1 (strain 1c).[1-4]

Prevalence of antibody to human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HLTV-1) in Australian aborigines, and detection in Indonesian sera. Acta Virol. 1990 Feb;34(1):80-4.[8]

 

Much of what we know of HTLV-1 over the past decade has come from National Health and Medical Research Council funds granted to medical researchers from Australian organisations (thanks also to several teams of French researchers as well!) including the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute [5-8], Flinders University [11] and La Trobe University.[10]

This post though is really just to clarify one point that you may have taken away from some recent stories; HTLV-1 is not new to Australians.

The presence of HTLV-I and disease associated with infection by it has been known to Australia since at least the 1980s. Antibodies have been detected in blood samples collected at least as far back as 1977. Our blood donations are screened for signs of infection.

“The mostly wrongly rehearsed HTLV mantra is that ‘Nothing can be done for patients because there is no treatment or cure for diseases caused by HTLV-1.’ [9]

It seems like Australia still has some way to go to launch a concerted effort to learn more about our genotypes of HTLV-I, what range of diseases they manifest in Australia, how to improve testing speeds, how to carefully, sensitively and appropriately engage with local communities (working in partnerships with Aboriginal Australians) to provide more education about the virus, its transmission (to slow and halt this), disease and testing, and which roles State and Federal governments can take over to address these and other aspects of HTLV-1.

References…

  1. ‘People are scared’: the fight against a deadly virus no one has heard of
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/24/people-are-scared-the-fight-against-a-deadly-virus-no-one-has-heard-of.
  2. World experts call for Australia to act on devastating HTLV-1 virus
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/28/world-experts-call-for-australia-to-act-on-devastating-htlv-1-virus
  3. What is HTLV-1? The devastating health crisis afflicting central Australia
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/24/what-is-htlv-1-the-devastating-health-crisis-afflicting-central-australia
  4. Ancient virus lurking in remote Australia, affecting thousands of Aboriginal adults
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/ancient-virus-cousin-of-hiv-affecting-indigenous-australians/9688718
  5. Stop HTLV-1
    https://www.baker.edu.au/get-involved/fundraising/stop-htlv1
  6. HIV related virus spreading in remote indigenous communities — ABC Radio National
    https://www.baker.edu.au/news/in-the-media/HIV-related-virus-spreading-in-remote-indigenous-communities
  7. Dr Lloyd Einsiedel
    https://www.baker.edu.au/news/in-the-media/HIV-related-virus-spreading-in-remote-indigenous-communities
  8. Aboriginal Health Domain
    https://www.baker.edu.au/research/research-domains/aboriginal-health
  9. Highlights from the HTLV-1 symposium at the 2017 Australasian HIV and AIDS Conference held jointly with the 2017 Australasian Sexual Health Conference, November 2017, Canberra, Australia.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29568554.
  10. Prevalence of antibody to human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HLTV-1) in Australian aborigines, and detection in Indonesian sera
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1975728
  11. Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Subtype C Molecular Variants among Indigenous Australians: New Insights into the Molecular Epidemiology of HTLV-1 in Australo-Melanesia
    http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0002418

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