Serologic evidence of human herpesvirus 8 transmission by homosexual but not heterosexual sex

Nicola A. Smith, Caroline A. Sabin, Robin Gopal, Dimitra Bourboulia, Wendy Labbet, Chris Boshoff, David Barlow, Barbara Band, Barry S. Peters, Annemiek De Ruiter, David W.G. Brown, Robin A. Weiss, Jennifer M. Best*, Denise Whitby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Epidemiologic studies link Kaposi's sarcoma with a sexually transmitted agent. Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is likely to be that agent, but routes of transmission are poorly described. A seroepidemiologic study was conducted to determine whether HHV-8 is transmitted sexually between heterosexuals. Sera from 2718 patients attending a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic were tested for antibodies to HHV-8 and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Information on sex partners in the previous 12 months and past STDs were obtained by questionnaire. Relationships between possible risk factors and HHV-8 infection were assessed by logistic regression. Overall, seroprevalence of HHV-8 was 7.3%. Independent risk factors for HHV-8 in the whole group were homo/bisexuality and birth in Africa and, among homo/bisexual men, a history of syphilis and HSV-2 and human immunodeficiency virus seropositivity. Among heterosexuals there was no evidence for sexual transmission; the only independent risk factor for HHV-8 seropositivity was birth in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-606
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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