HTLV-1 PrEP Open Letter to Gilead & ViiV
Human T Lymphotropic/Leukaemia Virus-1 (HTLV-1) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) closely related to human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1). HTLV-1 causes chronic infection, can be transmitted from mother to baby and is associated with significant disease burden and mortality, preceded by years of suffering and poor quality of life for victims.
Therefore, HTLV-1 is one of the 2030 elimination targets of the World Health Organization’s global STI elimination strategy.
Although there is currently no drug or vaccine available to cure HTLV-1, we now know that the very same drugs that effectively treat patients with HIV or prevent people from getting HIV-1, called HIV PrEP, also prevent the transmission of HTLV-1 in our laboratory testing (Reviewed in Bradshaw and Taylor, Frontiers in Medicine 2022). We believe that these compounds are likely to block the transmission from mother to child.
It is well known that many HIV PrEP clinical trials are conducted in countries where HTLV-1 is common. So, by adding in HTLV-1 testing to these HIV-PrEP trials we could measure if the HIV PrEP drugs also prevent HTLV-1 transmission. The beauty of such an outcome would be that these HIV-1 drugs are already licensed to be used in humans.
Ahead of the WHO Global Consultation on HTLV-1, Professor Graham Taylor outlines three steps to prioritise the neglected cancer-causing virus.
“I couldn’t do anything for a week after I opened the letter and saw that I was infected with it. I saw H and thought I had HIV. I’d never heard of HTLV”.
It’s not the first time that I’ve heard this, but this was two days ago, almost 40 years since the report in 1980 of the discovery of the human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1). Sadly Janet* is joined in her lack of awareness not only by almost the entire general public but also by most healthcare professionals.
This weekend saw World HTLV Day marked for the second year, with the slogan is: ‘It’s time to care’. This is in response to a general perception that there is a widespread indifference toward HTLV. Hopefully this will change soon. This week, I fly to Tokyo to participate in a WHO Global Consultation on HTLV-1 to address the public health impact and implications of this little-known virus. (more…)
As the human T-cell leukaemia virus is discussed on the world stage, Professor Graham Taylor addresses the misconceptions surrounding HTLV-1.
Based on the number of articles published in mainstream media, and the number of interview requests I have received in the last week, it seems that everyone wants to know about HTLV-1, the human T-cell leukaemia virus, after 30 years of turning a blind eye. Why the sudden interest in a virus that few outside my field of human retrovirology have heard of? (more…)