Prevalence of infection with human herpesvirus 8/Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus in rural South Africa

David Wilkinson*, Julie Sheldon, Charles F. Gilks, Thomas F. Schulz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Objective. To determine prevalence of infection with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)/Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) and to gain some insight into possible transmission dynamics of this novel virus in South Africa. Methods. Stored, anonymous serum from 50 patients with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), 50 adult medical ward patients (25 male, 25 female), and 36 paediatric ward patients in Hlabisa Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal, was screened by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibodies to the small capsid-related protein encoded by HHV-8/KSHV orf65. Antibodies to the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) were measured by immunofluorescence, and sera that were reactive in the ELISA but negative by immunofluorescence were re-tested by Western blot against the recombinant orf65 protein to exclude nonspecific reactivity. Results. Overall, 47 patients tested positive (34.6%), 76 tested negative (55.9%) and 13 (9.5%) had indeterminate results. Among those with a definite result, prevalence was similar among males (47.2%) and females (52.8%) and increased in later adulthood (< 18 months 37.5%, 19-120) months 38.5%, 15-34 years 32.1%, 35-69 years 62.8%). Prevalence was highest among medical patients (58.1%); among those with an STD it was 31.1% (P = 0.01), and among children it was 22.8% (P = 0.001). When age-adjusted, prevalence among medical patients (23.7%) was similar to that among patients with an STD. Conclusion. Prevalence of HHV-8/KSHV is high in this setting and transmission appears to be occurring in childhood as well as among adults. Larger population-based studies are required to detail the transmission dynamics of HHSV-8/KSHV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-557
Number of pages4
JournalSouth African Medical Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence of infection with human herpesvirus 8/Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus in rural South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this