Background: Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are prevalent in Africa, but less common elsewhere and the modes of transmission are still subject to debate. Generally, they rarely cause disease in the immunocompetent host but are highly oncogenic when associated with immunosuppression. Although the high prevalence of HHV-8, CMV and EBV has been well documented in Africa, such data are sparse from Ghana.
Methods: Serum samples from 3275 HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors and 250 HIV-AIDS patients were tested for antibodies specific for HHV-8, CMV and EBV by IgG ELISA assays. Differences in seropositivity rates by gender and age were evaluated using the Chi-square test with Yates correction.
Results: Of the 3275 HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors tested, 2573 (78.6%) were males and 702 (21.4%) were females, with ages ranging from 18 to 65 years (median 32.6; mean 31.2; mode 30). Of the 250 HIV-AIDS patients tested, 140 (56%) were males and 110 (44%) were females, with ages ranging from 17 to 64 years (median 30.8; mean 30.3; mode 28). Among the HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors, overall seroprevalence of HHV-8, CMV and EBV was 23.7%, 77.6% and 20.0%, respectively. Among the HIV-AIDS patients, overall seroprevalence of HHV-8, CMV and EBV was 65.6%, 59.2% and 87.2%, respectively. The seroprevalence of HHV-8 (p < 0.005) and EBV (p < 0.001) was statistically significantly higher in HIV-AIDS patients compared to HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors. There was no statistically significant difference (p = 0.24) between CMV seroprevalence in HIV-AIDS patients and HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors. Age and gender were not independent determinants (p > 0.05) for all three infections among HIV-seronegative healthy blood donors and HIV-AIDS patients in Ghana.
Conclusion: The results presented herein indicate that HHV-8, CMV and EBV infections are hyperendemic in both HIV-seronegative and HIV-seropositive Ghanaians, and suggest primarily a horizontal route of transmission of these three viral infections in Ghana.