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Major depression and generalized anxiety disorder among HTLV-I/II infected former blood donors


Other studies have reported high rates of depression and anxiety among human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infected subjects, and have even suggested that HTLV-I causes psychiatric disease.


We interviewed HTLV-I, HTLV-II and demographically similar HTLV seronegative blood donors with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Prevalences of major depression and generalized anxiety disorder in each group were calculated and compared to published U.S. population data. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) controlling for educational achievement, alcohol intake and self-reported health status were calculated with multivariate logistic regression.


Major depression was diagnosed in 5 (5.4%) of 93 HTLV-I positive subjects (aOR = 2.19, 95% CI 0.63-7.55) and 17 (6.6%) of 256 HTLV-II positive subjects (aOR = 1.61, 95% CI 0.66-3.92), compared to 12 (2.1%) of 585 HTLV seronegative blood donors. The prevalence of major depression among infected subjects was comparable to the 6.7% prevalence in the U.S. general population. Generalized anxiety disorder was diagnosed in 5 (5.4%) HTLV-I positive subjects (OR= 2.32, 95% CI 0.74-7.26) and 12 (4.7%) HTLV-II positive subjects (OR = 1.65 95% CI 0.68-4.01), compared to 15 (2.6%) seronegatives and 3.1% in the U.S. general population.


We observed slightly higher prevalence of major depression and generalized anxiety disorder among HTLV-I and HTLV-II subjects that was not significantly elevated after controlling for health status and other confounding variables. Comparison to U.S. population data suggested that these findings are in part explained by a “healthy blood donor effect” among our controls.


For the HTLV outcomes study (HOST)

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Correspondence to Anne M Guiltinan.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Guiltinan, A.M., Kaidarova, Z., Behan, D. et al. Major depression and generalized anxiety disorder among HTLV-I/II infected former blood donors. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A70 (2011).

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