Increasing Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus seroprevalence with age in a highly Kaposi's sarcoma endemic region, Zambia in 1985

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Abstract

Background:

Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a newly discovered virus found in all forms of KS. In the United States, KSHV infection appears to be most common amongst individuals at high-risk for KS. Preliminary data from Africa suggest that KSHV infection may be much more common in the general population.

Objective:

To examine the KSHV seroprevalence and age-specific patterns of infection in an African country with high rates of KS.

Design:

Cross-sectional seroprevalence study.

Methods:

Sera were taken for a hospital-based HIV seroprevalence study conducted in August 1985 in Lusaka, Zambia at a time when HIV was just becoming epidemic in this area. A total of 251 sera were randomly sampled and examined for antibodies against latent and lytic antigens to KSHV. KSHV seroprevalence was compared with demographic and clinical variables using χ2 test for linear trend and odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results:

Overall, 58% of persons aged 14–84 years were KSHV-seropositive. KSHV seroprevalence increased linearly with age (P = 0.04) and was inversely related to years of education (P = 0.015). In contrast, HIV infection peaked in those aged 20–29 years and was positively related to years of education (P = 0.015). No association between KSHV and gender, marital status, or HIV serostatus was seen.

Conclusions:

KSHV infection was significantly more common in this region of Zambia in 1985 than it currently is in the United States. Our data are consistent with KSHV being well-established in this region prior to 1985 and that continued adult transmission of the virus was occurring. The high seroprevalence in the adolescent age-group and the relatively linear increase in prevalence with age suggest that non-sexual modes of transmission may be important for KSHV transmission in Africa.

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