Oral HHV-8 replication among women in Mombasa, Kenya

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Human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) replication in the oropharynx may play an important role in HHV-8 transmission and contribute to the development of Kaposi sarcoma (KS) in some individuals. Studies in the United States and Europe report high rates of HHV-8 DNA detection in saliva of HHV-8 infected men, but little is known about the natural history of HHV-8 among persons in sub-Saharan Africa, where prevalence of HHV-8 infection and KS is greatest. To address this gap, this study evaluated oral HHV-8 replication in a cohort of 40 HHV-8 seropositive Kenyan women. Study clinicians collected daily oral swabs from participants for up to 30 consecutive days, and swab samples were tested for HHV-8 DNA using quantitative, real-time polymerase chain reaction. HHV-8 was detected at least once in 27 (68%) participants, and the overall shedding rate was 23%. On days with HHV-8 detection, mean HHV-8 quantity was 4.5 log10 copies/ml. Among HIV-infected women, CD4 count ≥500 cells/mm3 versus <500 cells/mm3 was associated with higher HHV-8 copy number (4.8 log10 copies/ml vs. 3.4 log10 copies/ml; coef 1.2 [95% CI, 0.5–1.9]; P = 0.001) and a higher HHV-8 shedding rate (49% vs.12%; RR, 4.2 [95% CI, 0.8–21.4]; P = 0.08). No other factors were associated with HHV-8 shedding rate or copy number. The study demonstrates high rates and quantity of HHV-8 in the oropharynx of HHV-8 seropositive African women. These findings support the observation that oral replication is an essential feature of HHV-8 infection, with likely implications for HHV-8 transmission and KS pathogenesis. J. Med. Virol. 86: 1759–1765, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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