Prevalence of antibodies to HHV-8 in the general population and in individuals at risk for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections in Catania, Eastern Sicily.
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BACKGROUND: Human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8) is the putative infectious agent of multifactorial diseases, such as Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease. However, its exact mode of action as well as its transmission is still under investigation. Besides, little is known about its seroprevalence in the population. HHV-8 epidemiology has been widely studied all over the world, demonstrating significant differences in distribution among various geographical areas and various population communities. Very few studies of HHV-8 seroprevalence have been conducted in Italy, particularly in Sicily which, along with other Mediterranean areas, is known to have high rates of KS incidence. Between January 2001 and April 2002, 424 patients were consecutively recruited from three treatment facilities. An Infectious Diseases Clinic provided 196 anti-HIV positive patients, both affected by AIDS and not. A further 122 anti-HIV negative intravenous drug users were recruited from drug treatment clinics, while as a control group from the Blood Bank 126 blood donors were recruited. Base-line serum samples were assayed for antibodies to HHV-8 latency-associated nuclear antigen (anti-LANA) by IFA (Viramed Biotech AG, Planneg/Steinkirken--Germany). Anti-HHV-8 antibodies were found in 98 individuals (23.1%). HHV-8 reactivity was more common among anti-HIV positive patients (89/196, 45.4%, 95 C.I. 38.4-52.4) than in IDUs (6/102, 5.9%, 95 C.I. 1.2-16.2) and the control group (3/126, 2.4%, 95 C.I. 0.7-10.1). Overall, anti-HHV-8 antibodies were found in all three groups with large differences between groups.
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