Sector Release
10 May 2018

ASHM has joined the call by leading Human T-Lymphotrophic Virus 1 (HTLV-1) researchers, clinicians and patients to take action on HTLV-1 by signing an open letter to the WHO, published in an abbreviated form in The Lancet. The letter calls on the WHO to support the promotion of proven, effective transmission prevention strategies for HTLV-1, in much the same way it already does for HIV, HBV and HCV.

ASHM established a HTLV-1 working group in 2016, to bring together researches, clinicians and community representatives at an annual round table to raise awareness of HTLV-1 and share the latest information. Up to 40% of the population of some Central Australian communities are positive for HTLV-1, which can cause cancer, neurological problems and immune disorders, including chronic lung inflammation leading to bronchiectasis.

“Specifically for Australia, we have all of the key components required for an effective response to this virus – indigenous clinical leadership; the medical research skills and capacity; and two forthcoming developments in treatment and vaccine development,” said Professor Damian Purcell, Head of Molecular Virology Laboratory, The University of Melbourne at the Doherty Institute and member of the ASHM HTLV-1 working group.

“But we need the support of the WHO and Australian Government to accelerate research and implement these strategies.”

ASHM have been advocating for the inclusion of HTLV-1 in the yet to be released Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy as a Priority Action.


Read the Open Letter


HTLV-1 highlighted at Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference

A joint symposium and plenary session on HTLV-1 were held as part of the 2017 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference and Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Canberra. HTLV-1 will again be highlighted at the 2018 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference in Sydney, 24-26 September 2018. For more information, visit the conference website:

Further links + Reading

The Guardian Australia have recently highlighted HTLV-1 in various articles (see: sample links below). Access via


ASHM's HTLV-1 Working Group

Established in 2016, ASHM formed a working group initiated work to support progress in understanding and responding to HTLV-1 in Australia.