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Int J Mol Med. 2001 May;7(5):535-8.

HHV-8 prevalence, immunosuppression and Kaposi's sarcoma in South Italy.

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Epidemiology Unit, National Cancer Institute, 80131 Naples, Italy.


The identification of HHV-8 has opened the way for numerous epidemiological studies aimed at determining both the prevalence of HHV-8 in various sub-groups of the population (affected or not by KS) and at identifying possible cofactors necessary for the development of KS. We set up a study to evaluate the prevalence of HHV-8 in the South of Italy in KS cases, hospital patients and blood donors and to verify the role of immunosuppression in KS. In KS patients the prevalence of lytic and latent antigens were both 91% (29 positive cases). Lytic and latent antigens have prevalence rates of 20% and 15% respectively in hospital patients. In the donor group the rates were 16% for lytic antigens and 2% for latent antigens. The most recurrent chronic pathology in KS patients was cardiopathy (5 cases). The pathological case histories report 4 cases of Herpes Zoster, 6 of diabetes, one case of hepatitis C who had also had gonorrea. There was also a case, negative to HHV-8, who had had malaria after residing for three years in Oristano in Sardinia (a zone with high endemic malaria). Our study confirms that in Southern Italy there are relatively high prevalences of HHV-8 both in the general population and in blood donors and that immunodysregulation may be involved in the pathogenesis of KS. Other studies are necessary to confirm the sexual transmission of the HHV-8 virus and to better understand the natural history of HHV-8 infection.

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