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Am J Epidemiol. 1992 Dec; 136(11): 1349-57.

Markers of health status in an HTLV-I-positive cohort.

Ho GY, Nelson K, Nomura AM, Polk BF, Blattner WA.

Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

The health effects of chronic human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) infection were examined in a cohort of Japanese men who had emigrated from Okinawa, Japan, and had been participants in a prospective study in Hawaii since 1965. In the present follow-up study carried out in 1987-1988, various health indicators were measured in the subjects, whose mean age was 72.5 years. Participation rates were lower in the HTLV-I seropositives than in the seronegatives (46.7% vs. 76.0%) in the > or = 75-year age group. Lack of participation was significantly correlated with a high HTLV-I antibody titer. Among the participants, seropositive subjects were significantly more likely than the seronegatives to have lymphocytopenia (32.7% vs. 17.7%) and mild anemia (25.5% vs. 14.1%) after adjustment for age and socioeconomic status. The seropositives also had a higher frequency of acupuncture therapy (age-adjusted odds ratios were 2.1 and 4.2 for 1-5 treatments and > or = 6 treatments, respectively). Proportions of subjects who had been hospitalized at least twice were higher among the seropositives in the oldest age groups, 70-74 years and > or = 75 years, but not in those aged 65-69 years. Although specific disease conditions were not identified in this study, hematologic data, treatment histories, and the correlation between participation status and HTLV-I antibody titers suggest that chronic HTLV-I infection may be associated with as yet undefined adverse health effects, particularly in older age groups.

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