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Human T-Lymphotropic virus type 1 and human immunodeficiency virus co-infection in rural Gabon

Mouinga-Ondémé, Augustin and Boundenga, Larson and Koumba Koumba, Ingrid Précilya and Idam Mamimandjiami, Antony and Diané, Abdoulaye and Engone-Ondo, Jéordy Dimitri and Djuicy, Delia Doreen and Sica, Jeanne and Mombo, Landry Erik and Gessain, Antoine and Aghokeng Fobang, Avelin (2022) 'Human T-Lymphotropic virus type 1 and human immunodeficiency virus co-infection in rural Gabon.', PLOS ONE, 17 (7).


Introduction Human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) co-infection occur in many populations. People living with HIV-1 and infected with HTLV-1 seem more likely to progress rapidly towards AIDS. Both HTLV-1 and HIV-1 are endemic in Gabon (Central Africa). We investigated HTLV-1 and HIV-1 co-infection in the Haut-Ogooué province, and assessed factors that may favor the rapid evolution and progression to AIDS in co-infected patients. Methods Plasma samples from HTLV-1 patients were tested using ELISA, and positive samples were then tested by western blot assay (WB). We used the polymerase chain reaction to detect HTLV-1 Tax/Rex genes using DNA extracted from the buffy coat of ELISA-positives samples. Results We recruited 299 individuals (mean age 46 years) including 90 (30%) men and 209 (70%) women, all of whom are under treatment at the Ambulatory Treatment Centre of the province. Of these, 45 were ELISA HTLV-1/2 seropositive. According to WB criteria, 21 of 45 were confirmed positive: 20 were HTLV-1 (44%), 1 was HTLV-1/2 (2%), 2 were indeterminate (4%) and 22 were seronegative (49%). PCR results showed that 23 individuals were positive for the Tax/Rex region. Considering both serological and molecular assays, the prevalence of HTLV-1 infection was estimated at 7.7%. Being a woman and increasing age were found to be independent risk factors for co-infection. Mean CD4+ cell counts were higher in HTLV-1/HIV-1 co-infected (578.1 (± 340.8) cells/mm3) than in HIV-1 mono-infected (481.0 (± 299.0) cells/mm3) Individuals. Similarly, the mean HIV-1 viral load was Log 3.0 (± 1.6) copies/ml in mono-infected and Log 2.3 (± 0.7) copies/ml in coinfected individuals. Conclusion We described an overall high prevalence of HTLV-1/HIV-1 co-infection in Gabon. Our findings stress the need of strategies to prevent and manage these co-infections.

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Publisher statement:This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:28 June 2022
Date deposited:05 September 2022
Date of first online publication:22 July 2022
Date first made open access:05 September 2022

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