Evidence for HTLV-III infection in prostitutes in Tamil Nadu (India).

E. A. Simoes, P. G. Babu, T. J. John, S. Nirmala, S. Solomon, C. S. Lakshminarayana, T. C. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Blood samples were collected from 102 female prostitutes housed in a custodial care institution in Tamil Nadu, India, to determine the presence of antibodies to human T-lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III). Both social and sexual histories were taken from 101 of the 102 women. Commercial test kits were used to test sera for antibody to HTLV-III. Reactive sera were tested for a 2nd time by the enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (ELISA). Those repeatedly reactive sera were transported to the US, the National Institutes of Health, for western blot analysis. The sera from 11 of the study subjects were found to be repeatedly reactive in ELISA, and 10 were confirmed to have specific antibody to the virus by western blot analysis. Both infected and uninfected women were similar in age and of low socioeconomic status. The risk ratio for HTLV-III antibody was 8.2 in those women who had had sexual exposure to foreigners. None of the women were intravenous drug abusers, and all denied oral or rectal intercourse. On the basis of the stringent criteria used in the western blot analysis, it is believed that the 10 women have HTLV-III antibody. This emerges as the 1st report of evidence for HTLV-III infection in India. 10-40% of prostitutes in North America and Europe have HTLV-III antibody; the risk factors for infection appear to be intravenous drug use and penis-rectal intercourse. 54-88% of prostitutes in Central Africa have HTLV-III antibody, and the frequency of sexual contact with different partners is more important here as a risk-factor than the type of intercourse. As the prostitutes in this study in Indian did not use intravenous drugs and did not practice penis-rectal or penis-oral intercourse and had been prostitutes for shorter periods of time than the noninfected women and had fewer contacts, it is believed that HTLV-III infection has been introduced only recently into prostitutes in India. Sexual exposure to foreigners was a significant factor in the infected women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-338
Number of pages4
JournalThe Indian journal of medical research
StatePublished - Apr 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for HTLV-III infection in prostitutes in Tamil Nadu (India).'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this