Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Epidemiol. 2000 Feb;29(1):175-9.

Antibodies to human herpes virus type 8 (HHV8) in general population and in individuals at risk for sexually transmitted diseases in Western Sicily.

Author information

Dipartimento di Igiene e Microbiologia, Policlinico, Università di Palermo, Italy.



Human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) appears to be the primary aetiologic agent of Kaposi sarcoma (KS). To study the distribution of HHV8, a seroepidemiological study was carried out in western Sicily, where a high incidence rate of classical KS is well documented.


A total of 970 sera of healthy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) negative individuals of general population (1-70 years old) and 742 sera of individuals in different risk groups for HIV infection were evaluated by means of an indirect immunofluorescence assay able to detect antibodies to lytic and latent HHV8 antigens.


Crude seroprevalence to HHV8 antigens was 11.5% in the general population, and it increased significantly with age from 6% under age 16 to 22% after age 50. Significantly higher HHV8 seroprevalence rates were detected among HIV positive and negative homosexual men (62% and 22%, respectively), men who had sex with prostitutes (40% and 29%, respectively); female prostitutes (42% and 30%, respectively), and clients at a sexually transmitted disease clinic (male: 60% and 33%, respectively, female: 63% and 43%, respectively). In contrast, heterosexual intravenous drug users had seroprevalence rates comparable to those found in the general population.


The results suggest that HHV8 infection is widespread in Western Sicily. The high seroprevalence in individuals with high risk sexual activity point to the role of sexual behaviour in the transmission of the infection in adults, whereas the detection of antibodies in younger population (under 16 years old) is suggestive of a non-sexual route of transmission, probably occurring during childhood by close personal contact.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center