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Central Australia’s HTLV-1 Epidemic Highlights Importance Of Global Health Funding For Neglected Issues

The Hill: HIV’s ancient ‘cousin’ is ravaging Australia and could spread worldwide
Noelle Sullivan, assistant professor of instruction in global health studies at Northwestern University

“Central Australia is being ravaged by an epidemic of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, or HTLV-1. … [T]he HTLV-1 virus weakens the immune system, increasing the chances that those infected will develop other illnesses, including HIV. … The prevalence rate in rural Australia is significant cause for concern. The virus has no cure, no vaccine, and receives minimal funding or global attention. This epidemic highlights why global health funding to neglected issues continues to be critical. … Bringing additional attention to HTLV-1 is not just the moral thing to do; from a public and global health standpoint it’s the economically prudent thing to do so that the virus doesn’t spread more widely. … Recent research demonstrates good possibilities for creating an HTLV-1 vaccine and the Global Virus Network already has an HTLV-1 Task Force aiming to mobilize funding and experts to develop treatments and vaccines for the virus. What is needed now is significant global health funding and attention to make that goal into a reality” (5/8).

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