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Keywords:

  • HIV;
  • HBV;
  • HCV;
  • HTLV;
  • genotype;
  • immigration

Abstract

The increased immigration from developing regions to Western countries raises public health concerns related to blood-borne viruses. The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) infections among recent immigrants attending several Spanish diagnostic centers in years 2002 and 2003 was examined. Genetic characterization of viral subtypes and its relationship with distinct at-risk populations was carried out. A total of 1,303 immigrants were identified. They originated in Latin America (46.9%), Sub-Saharan Africa (23.7%), Eastern Europe (9.4%), and the Maghreb (9.2%). Seroprevalence rates were as follows: HIV-1 4.2%, HBV 4.1%, HCV 2.9%, and HTLV-1 0.8%. All patients with HIV-1 non-B subtypes, HBV genotypes E and A3, and HCV genotype 4 were sub-Saharan Africans, and had been infected mainly through heterosexual contacts. In contrast, Latin American homo/bisexual men carried HIV-1 subtype B most likely acquired after their arrival to Spain. In conclusion, while Sub-Saharan Africans carry wide diverse genetic variants of blood-borne viruses, the absence of high-risk practices in most cases could limit the spread of these variants. In contrast, Latin Americans with high-risk sexual practices may be a particularly vulnerable collective to acquire blood-borne viruses in the receptor country. J. Med. Virol. 78:1599–1608, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.