Retroviral risk factors in patients with autoimmune disease

Barbara E. Drevlow, Ellen M. Schilling, Rima F. Khabbaz, Jonathan E. Kaplan, Keiji Fukuda, James Sinacore, Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Objective. Retroviruses can cause immunoregulatory disturbances and may play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders. Little is known about the frequency of behavioral risk factors for exogenous retroviral infections in patients with autoimmune diseases. We compare the frequency of recognized risk factors for retroviral infections among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and controls. Methods. Patients with SLE and RA from a university rheumatology clinic and control patients were enrolled in this study. The presence of retroviral risk factors (intravenous drug use, prostitution, increased number of sex partners, sexually transmitted diseases, high risk sex partners, blood transfusion) was determined by a self-administered questionnaire. Results. We surveyed 81 patients with SLE and 117 with RA and 100 healthy controls. Patients in all groups reported similar exposure to all risk factors surveyed for retroviral infection except sexually transmitted disease, which was reported more often in patients with SLE (25% of SLE versus 11% of RA and, 11% of controls, p = 0.013). Conclusion. Self-reported retroviral risk factors were generally not increased in patients with autoimmune disease compared to healthy controls; the role of exogenous retroviruses in the pathogenesis of SLE and RA remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-431
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 22 1996


  • Retrovirus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Risk factors
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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    Drevlow, B. E., Schilling, E. M., Khabbaz, R. F., Kaplan, J. E., Fukuda, K., Sinacore, J., & Ramsey-Goldman, R. (1996). Retroviral risk factors in patients with autoimmune disease. Journal of Rheumatology, 23(3), 428-431.