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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus in Uganda

DCEG is collaborating with investigators in Uganda, South Africa, and Switzerland  to explore transmission routes for Kaposi sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV, also known as human herpesvirus 8 [HHV8]). Infection with HHV8 is necessary for KS to occur, and HHV8 prevalence varies dramatically across the world, suggesting that cofactors correlated with geographic or environmental characteristics may influence risk of infection with the virus. Investigators have found that HHV8 transmission in blood is inefficient, but it does occur. They have documented that levels of HHV8 are considerably higher in saliva than in blood, a finding that adds support to a mechanism of salivary transmission from mother to child or from child to child. Further studies are being conducted across Uganda to assess small-area variation of HHV8 and to identify sociodemographic and environmental risk factors for HHV8 and KS.

DCEG investigators are also evaluating HHV8 seroprevalence and its determinants in a large and population-based survey in Uganda. Results from this study confirmed the high rate of HHV8 seropositivity in the region (55%) and identified variability in seroprevalence within regions of Uganda that co-segregate with rates of KS in the country. Investigators also reported that HHV8 seropositivity was higher in men, increased with age, and was higher in people with low educational attainment. They further showed that HHV8 seropositivity is not associated with self-reported sexual behavior or laboratory markers of sexual transmission.

For more information, contact Sam Mbulaiteye.

Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch – Research Areas