, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 871-876

A seroprevalence study of human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV8) in eastern and Central Africa and in the Mediterranean area

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Human herpes virus type 8 (HHV8) is the major determinant of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a neoplasm with wide geographic variations in incidence rates. To assess the prevalence of HHV8 infection among populations with differing rates of KS, we used sera from 1402 persons (Central Africa: Cameroon, n = 293, age range: 5–40; eastern Africa: Uganda, n = 315, age range: 1–64: Mediterranean area: Egypt, n = 236, age range: 13–19: Italy, blood donors n = 134, age range: 20–67: Italy. HIV seroconverters n = 424, age range: 16–65). Serum samples were tested for antibodies to lytic and latent antigens of HHV8 using two immunofluorescence assays. HHV8 prevalence was evaluated according to geographic area, gender and age groups. Overall, the highest prevalence of HHV8 lytic antigens (47.5%) was recorded among children and adults in Africa. Approximately 40% of children and adolescents from Egypt and of Italian HIV-positive persons (39.9%) were HHV8 seropositive. In eastern and Central Africa and in Egypt, no differences emerged between males and females for both types of HHV8 antibodies. Conversely, Italian females were at lower HHV8 risk than their male counterparts. Moreover the prevalence of HHV8 infection tended to increase with age. This investigation partially confirms that HHV8 infection mirrors incidence rates of KS. The high prevalence of HHV8 infection in newborns, children and adolescents in Egypt, in eastern and in Central Africa strongly suggests the existence of transmission modes other than sexual.