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While it is widely known that multiple sclerosis is a relatively common crippling disease in the United States, few realize that people in the tropics suffer from a superficially similar, but much more common condition; tropical spastic paraparesis.   This irreversible, degenerative disorder of the nervous system characteristically affects poor people.  

Third World Medical Research Foundation has sponsored research in two areas of the developing world where tropical spastic paraparesis is exceedingly common: the Pacific Coast of Colombia and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.  

Those afflicted in these regions lose their ability to work, thereby adding to the financial and emotional burden of societies struggling to develop.  Scientists are using epidemiological techniques to define the exact nature of this disorder, measure its frequency in different populations, and determine why certain individuals are susceptible and others resistant.  

          Does an AIDS-like virus travel incognito in victims of   tropical paralysis?

Tropical spastic paraparesis is a crippling disorder that stalks several regions of the world, including Jamaica, South Africa, India, Japan, Colombia, and certain islands of the Indian Ocean.  The Third World Medical Research Foundation  has established that the condition is far more frequent than such spastic disorders as multiple sclerosis in the developed West.  

An infectious agent seems to have a causal role.  Serological tests reveal the presence of antibodies to human T-cell Lymphotrophic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) in those affected.  

HTLV-1 has also been isolated from nervous system tissues of patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).  Additionally, neuropathological changes of tropical spastic paraparesis resemble changes observed in AIDS victims. TWMRF has  conducted a study in islands of the Indian Ocean into the causes of tropical paralysis.

Either The Grim Reaper continues to collect, or the Third World Medical Research Foundation is helped, by you the reader of this appeal document, to generate the funds urgently needed to continue and expand this critical area of research.



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Last modified: November 01, 2004


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