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Why are the diseases HAM and TSP combined into one condition name?
The names have been combined because TSP and HAM are the same disease. TSP has been understood in the Caribbean for many decades but the cause was unknown until 1985 when evidence of HTLV-1 infection was found in the blood of the majority of patients with TSP in Martinique. At about the same time, neurologists in Japan found that patients with a particular pattern of neurological symptoms were infected with HTLV-1. They called this condition HTLV-1 associated myelopathy (HAM).
Reviewed by Elias Sotirchos, MD November 2019