Water, Socioeconomic Factors, and Human Herpesvirus 8 Infection in Ugandan Children and Their Mothers

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Background:Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) infection is common in sub-Saharan Africa, but its distribution is uneven. Transmission occurs during childhood within families by unclear routes.Methods:We evaluated 600 Ugandan children with sickle cell disease and their mothers for factors associated with HHV-8 seropositivity in a cross-sectional study. HHV-8 serostatus was determined using an HHV-8 K8.1 glycoprotein enzyme immunoassay. Odds ratios for seropositivity were estimated using logistic regression, and factor analysis was used to identify clustering among socioeconomic variables.Results:One hundred seventeen (21%) of 561 children and 166 (34%) of 485 mothers with definite HHV-8 serostatus were seropositive. For children, seropositivity was associated with age, mother's HHV-8 serostatus (especially for children aged 6 years or younger), lower maternal education level, mother's income, and low-status father's occupation (P < 0.05 for all). Using communal standpipe or using surface water sources were both associated with seropositivity (OR 2.70, 95% CI 0.80-9.06 and 4.02, 95% CI 1.18-13.7, respectively) as compared to using private tap water. These associations remained, albeit attenuated, after adjusting for maternal education and child's age (P = 0.08). In factor analysis, low scores on environmental and family factors, which captured household and parental characteristics, respectively, were positively associated with seropositivity (Ptrend < 0.05 for both). For mothers, HHV-8 seropositivity was significantly associated with water source and maternal income.Conclusions:HHV-8 infection in Ugandan children was associated with lower socioeconomic status and using surface water. Households with limited access to water may have less hygienic practices that increase risk for HHV-8 infection.

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