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BACKGROUND: HTLV-1 is endemic in Guinea-Bissau, and the highest prevalence in the adult population (5.2%) was observed in a rural area, Caió, in 1990. HIV-1 and HIV-2 are both prevalent in this area as well. Cross-sectional associations have been reported for HTLV-1 with HIV infection, but the trends in prevalence of HTLV-1 and HIV associations are largely unknown, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. In the current study, data from three cross-sectional community surveys performed in 1990, 1997 and 2007, were used to assess changes in HTLV-1 prevalence, incidence and its associations with HIV-1 and HIV-2 and potential risk factors. RESULTS: HTLV-1 prevalence was 5.2% in 1990, 5.9% in 1997 and 4.6% in 2007. Prevalence was higher among women than men in all 3 surveys and increased with age. The Odds Ratio (OR) of being infected with HTLV-1 was significantly higher for HIV positive subjects in all surveys after adjustment for potential confounding factors. The risk of HTLV-1 infection was higher in subjects with an HTLV-1 positive mother versus an uninfected mother (OR 4.6, CI 2.6-8.0). The HTLV-1 incidence was stable between 1990-1997 (Incidence Rate (IR) 1.8/1,000 pyo) and 1997-2007 (IR 1.6/1,000 pyo) (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) 0.9, CI 0.4-1.7). The incidence of HTLV-1 among HIV-positive individuals was higher compared to HIV negative individuals (IRR 2.5, CI 1.0-6.2), while the HIV incidence did not differ by HTLV-1 status (IRR 1.2, CI 0.5-2.7). CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the largest community based study that has reported on HTLV-1 prevalence and associations with HIV. HTLV-1 is endemic in this rural community in West Africa with a stable incidence and a high prevalence. The prevalence increases with age and is higher in women than men. HTLV-1 infection is associated with HIV infection, and longitudinal data indicate HIV infection may be a risk factor for acquiring HTLV-1, but not vice versa. Mother to child transmission is likely to contribute to the epidemic.

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Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Comorbidity, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Guinea-Bissau, HIV Infections, HIV-1, HIV-2, HTLV-I Infections, Human T-lymphotropic virus 1, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Young Adult