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Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus transmission and primary infection

Bagni, Rachel; Whitby, Denise

Current Opinion in HIV & AIDS: January 2009 - Volume 4 - Issue 1 - p 22–26
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32831add5a
Cancer: Edited by Andrew Grulich and Mark Bower

Purpose of review: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8, is the causal agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, one of the commonest cancers in HIV-infected individuals. Transmission and risk factors for infection by KSHV are not fully understood. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent advances in our understanding of KSHV transmission in various settings.

Recent findings: KSHV and HIV are both common in southern Africa where KSHV infection occurs during childhood via saliva. HIV infection is a major risk factor for KSHV infection. In developed countries, KSHV transmission among men who have sex with men is related to sexual risk factors such as number of sexual partners and to sexual practices involving saliva. KSHV can be transmitted by transfusion of infected blood, but storage of blood products diminishes the risk.

Summary: Recent reports have provided much additional insight into KSHV transmission in different populations, but have also provided a number of important questions for the research and public health communities. Most critically, the role of HIV in increasing risk for KSHV infection and the possible effects on KSHV prevalence, and consequently the incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma warrants urgent further study.

Viral Oncology Section, AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, SAIC-Frederick, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland, USA

Correspondence to Denise Whitby, Viral Oncology Section, AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, SAIC-Frederick, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA E-mail: whitbyd@ncifcrf.gov

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.