Date of this Version
Comprehensive data describing epidemiological characteristics of the human herpesvirus-8 or Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (HHV-8 or KSHV) infection among pregnant women in a central sub-Saharan Africa are not available. This study determined virus prevalence estimates and the risk factors associated with HHV-8 infection. Cross-sectional, enrollment visit data were analyzed from a prospective cohort study of perinatal transmission of HHV-8 in Lusaka, Zambia. Exposure data were obtained via structured interview, physical examination, medical chart review, and laboratory testing. Among 3,160 antenatal women serologically screened for HHV-8 between September 1998 and October 2000, 40.2% were seropositive. The HHV-8 positive women were more likely to be co-infected with HIV-1 than those who were HHV-8 negative (34% vs. 26%; P < 0.0001). Of 154 variables evaluated by logistic regression analyses, only three risk factors, have emerged as independent predictors of HHV-8 positive serology: diagnosis of genital warts, HIV-1 co-infection and primary education. The association of HHV-8 infection with genital warts and HIV-1 co-infection suggests heterosexual transmission of HHV-8. HIV-1 infection may also act as a marker for particular behaviors, which could be sexual in nature, that are associated with both HIV-1 and HHV-8 transmission. Since HHV-8 facilitates development of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), the results of this study could be utilized to identify specific population groups of pregnant women who are at increased risk for this disease.