It’s called the T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1, for short) and is related to the deadly HIV disease. The virus is passed from the mother to child and can cause inflammation in the lungs, eyes and skin and cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
Joel Liddle is a researcher who is warning people to take this STD seriously. He said people are at risk of developing various illnesses and becoming disabled because of a spinal cord injury. He said the leukemia the virus causes can oftentimes kill quickly.
HTLV-1 has been seen in Africa, Japan and South America, but is also hitting Australia hard as well. The aboriginal communities are the most at risk. According to the Baker Institute for Heart and Diabetes in Alice Springs, nearly 45 percent of Aboriginal adults of Central Australia are living with the HTLV-1 virus.
Dr. Lloyd Einsiedel, infectious disease expert, said the disease is making its ways to other parts of Australia such as Perth and Adelaide. People with a plethora amount of virus in the blood are said to have the most potent carcinogenic virus known to date.
The disease risk of the infected is dependent on how much virus is in the blood.
For the large part, the HTLV-1 virus has been ignored even though it’s hitting the native areas fairly hard and is a serious disease.
Einsiedel said the medical community is behind in its research of the virus.
Liddle agreed with Einsidel’s assessment saying, the remote parts of Australia is often met with out of sight, out of mind context. And, health is one of those areas as well where things are overlooked.
According to a spokesman for the Indigenous Health Minister agency said the government approved $6.1 million to the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre to study and deal with the HTLV-1 threat.
Here’s what we've been up to recently.