Prof Damian Purcell featured in the Australian Financial Review as an expert on HLTV-1

Professor Damian Purcell (Dept. Microbiology & Immunology, Doherty Institute) was featured as an expert on HLTV-1 in the Australian Financial Review's article 'Australia has the highest rates of infection by an HIV-like virus, but no one cares' published on 11 January 2019.

HLTV-1, or Human T-cell lymphotropic/leukaemia virus type 1, is HIV's less virulent and largely overlooked cousin. The world's highest rates of HLTV-1 infection are found among the Aboriginal communities in Central Australia.

Professor Purcell described the likelihood of the spread of HLTV-1 beyond these communities: "Indigenous people are increasingly integrating into the general Australian society and this is a virus that doesn't pay attention to cultural groups, it just looks for an opportunity for transmission. Sporadic cases are turning up in major hospitals in Australia with infections that lead to leukaemia or other consequences from poor immune function."

"This is preventable and no one needs to have it. We need to take prevention seriously. We also need to further advance options for counteracting the debilitating effects of this virus. Drugs for HIV and Hepatitis C have not only transformed the lives for patients, they have a knock-on effect. They prevent transmission because they make the infected person untransmissible.

"There are new opportunities to address HLTV with drugs, if not to cure it but dramatically to wind back the transmission, so that eventually the problem won't exist."

Read the full article on AFR here.