Transmission and Disease Association of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus: Recent Developments

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2004 Feb;17(1):53-7. doi: 10.1097/00001432-200402000-00011.


Purpose of review: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus or human herpesvirus 8, common in sub-Saharan Africa and around the Mediterranean Sea but rare in most other countries, is known to be transmitted in childhood within families in endemic regions, and through sexual contacts among high-risk groups in Western countries. Nevertheless recent developments on other modes of transmission of the virus have been made during the last years and are summarized in this review. Furthermore, recent published disease associations are discussed.

Recent findings: The last year has seen research addressing the question of parenteral transmission, sexual transmission through heterosexual contact, transmission of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-infected cells from organ donors to recipient, as well as the first suggestion that host genetic factors may facilitate infection in childhood. Additional clinical manifestations of infection with the virus such as primary pulmonary hypertension and germinotropic lymphoproliferative disorder have been identified.

Summary: Evidence of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus transmission other than between homosexual adults and during childhood - namely transmission through heterosexual contact or injection drug use - is growing although these issues are still incompletely analysed and far away from being fully understood. Despite our increasing knowledge on transmission and disease associations of the virus, implications on the clinical management of associated diseases and public health have to be further evaluated in the coming years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • Herpesviridae Infections / transmission*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous