• HHV-8;
  • HCV;
  • risk factors;
  • transmission;
  • mother–child pairs


The seroprevalence of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) in a group of HIV-1-infected pregnant women and in mother–child pairs from Southeastern Italy (Apulia) was determined. Blood was collected from 49 HIV-1-infected women during pregnancy or at delivery as well as from their children. Samples were analysed for the presence of antibodies to the latency-associated nuclear antigen and a structural antigen encoded by open reading frame 65. The presence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV) was also determined. Nineteen women (38.7%) were found to be positive for HHV-8 antibodies to at least one of the two antigens, and 21 (42.9%) for HCV antibodies. HHV-8 antibodies were more common in injecting drug users (56.3%) than in women infected through heterosexual intercourse (30.3%). HCV antibodies were significantly more prevalent in HHV-8-seropositive (66.7%) than HHV- 8-seronegative (29%) women. Thirteen children born to HIV-1/HHV-8 co-infected women were HHV-8-seroreactive, with a variable pattern of reactivity to the analysed antigens. Follow-up of children showed a prolonged persistence of antibodies, in two cases for more than 12 months. This study has provided serological evidence for a high rate of HHV-8 infection in HIV-1-infected women in the Apulia region, and has identified a possible association between HHV-8 infection, past use of injection drugs and HCV infection. Parenteral transmission may, therefore, be a mode of virus spread. J. Med. Virol. 72:656–660, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.