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Transmission of human herpesvirus 8: an update

Pica, Francesca; Volpi, Antonio

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: April 2007 - Volume 20 - Issue 2 - p 152–156
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e3280143919
Skin and soft tissue infections

Purpose of review Human herpesvirus 8 is associated with neoplastic diseases in the immunocompromised host, including Kaposi's sarcoma, multicentric Castleman disease and primary effusion lymphoma. Acquisition and control of human herpesvirus 8 infection have not yet been fully elucidated. This review focuses on the most recent findings on human herpesvirus 8 transmission.

Recent findings Horizontal transmission by saliva appears the most common route not only in families in endemic regions, but also among high-risk groups in Western countries. Vertical, sexual, and blood and transplant-related transmission, however, remain of significant concern worldwide. Novel approaches to standardize and optimize the assessment of human herpesvirus 8 infection have been reported. New insights on the host immune cell mechanisms devoted to the control of human herpesvirus 8 infection have also been presented.

Summary The increasing knowledge about the routes of human herpesvirus 8 transmission, which appear now more similar to those of other more ubiquitous human herpesviruses (i.e. Epstein–Barr virus and cytomegalovirus), the growing efforts in improving laboratory diagnosis and the caution in the research of new biological associations are the major recent findings. They constitute a fundamental background for directing more appropriate future research and achieving more stringent evidence useful for the control of human herpesvirus 8 spread and for the management of human herpesvirus 8-related diseases.

Departments of Experimental Medicine and of Public Health, University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, Rome, Italy

Correspondence to Antonio Volpi, MD, Department of Public Health, University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy Tel: +39 6 72596876; fax: +39 6 72596873; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.