Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I and II seroprevalence among volunteer blood donors in Thailand

Human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type I and II (HTLV-I/II) are closely related but distinct retroviruses that can infect humans. Both the viruses can be transmitted via transfusion of contaminated blood components. HTLV pre-transfusion screening is not mandatory in Thailand until now. Current epidemiological data for HTLV prevalence is still lacking since the past surveys were done more than a decade ago. The main objective of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of HTLV-I/II among voluntary blood donors in Thailand. 11,057 volunteer blood donors were screened for HTLV-I/II antibodies using the ARCHITECT rHTLV-I/II chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA). Initial-reactive (IR)  samples were subjected to repeat duplicate testing and were also sent for confirmatory testing at Korean Red Cross Society (KRC), Seoul or National Serology Reference Laboratories (NRL), Australia using alternate HTLV serological assays and immunoblot and/or specific nucleic acid testing respectively.

Out of 11,057 plasma samples, 10,080 were low-risk seronegative donors and 977 were first-time/high-risk donors. Twenty of 24 IR samples were repeatedly reactive (RR) in low-risk seronegative donors group. On confirmatory testing of these 24 IR by immunoblot, 13 indeterminate and 11 negative results were observed. One out of 977 samples from first-time/high-risk donors was RR for anti-HTLV-I/II antibodies. This sample was co-reactive for HBsAg, but negative for HTLV by EIA or in-house HTLV-I qPCR. The ARCHITECT rHTLV-I/II assay exhibited a specificity of 99.93% in low-risk donors and 99.90% among high-risk donors.

This study concluded that HTLV-I/II prevalence is low among blood donors in Thailand. But periodic surveillance should be continually conducted to ensure high blood safety standards in the country.