High prevalence of early childhood infection by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus in a minority population in China



In China, KSHV seroprevalence varies considerably among different regions and ethnicities. But in Xinjiang province, located in the northwestern China, there is a very high seroprevalence of KSHV in adults of Kazak and Ughur ethnicities. However, KSHV prevalence in children and the risk factors associated with the acquisition of infection are currently not known. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of KSHV infection and identify associated socioeconomic or behavioural risk factors and the humoral immune response among children in this population. This is a cross-sectional study (N = 178) to screen children and their caregivers from Xinjiang for total KSHV antibodies, KSHV neutralizing antibodies and HIV infection. Structured questionnaires were utilized to investigate risk factors associated with KSHV prevalence. KSHV seroprevalence in children and caregivers in Xinjiang was 48.3% and 64.7%, respectively. Neutralizing antibody was detected in most seropositive caregivers (93.8%) but was detected in only 5.8% of the infected children. A significant association was observed between child KSHV seroprevalence and sharing of food among family members. These results suggest that similar to other endemic areas in Africa, KSHV infection in the minority populations of Xinjiang is likely to be occurring during early childhood, probably via horizontal transmission through saliva, and results in high seroprevalence in the adult population.