HIV and HTLV-I antibody studies: pregnant women in the 1960s, patients with AIDS, homosexuals, and individuals with tropical spastic paraparesis
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
To investigate the possible occurrence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type I (HTLV-I) infections in the United States prior to 1979-1981, when acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized, we tested sera from 310 pregnant women who participated in the Collaborative Perinatal Project during the period 1959-1964 for HIV and HTLV-I antibody. These samples included sera from 53 pregnant women who were intravenous drug users. The remainder were from women who had cervical epithelial abnormalities, who developed cervical carcinomas, who had had children with erythroblastosis fetalis, who had had children that developed malignant neoplasms early in life, or normal pregnant women. None of the 310 women had confirmed HIV or HTLV-I antibody. The rate of false-positive reactions with the HIV enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibody test in these long-frozen samples was similar to that observed in fresh sera. HIV antibody was detected in homosexual patients with AIDS; HTLV-I antibody was not detected in any of these sera. HTLV-I antibody was detected in 17 of 20 patients with tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) and in two of seven patients with other neurological diseases diagnosed as transverse myelopathy and multiple sclerosis, and in none of nine normal controls; HIV antibody was not detected in any of these sera patients. Thus, we conclude that there was no serological evidence of infection with HIV or HTLV-I in the pregnant women studied; however, HIV antibody was present in all AIDS patients tested, and HTLV-I antibody was found in the majority of patients with TSP.