Background  The authors present a serologic survey of the prevalence of herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) among 171 children from 0 to 12 years old in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Materials and methods  Sera were tested for latent nuclear and lytic antigens using indirect immunofluorescence and Western blotting.

Results  Serology for HHV-8 was positive in 16 of 171 patients (9.35%). Among 13 HIV-positive patients, four (31%) were also positive for HHV-8. The seropositivity among healthy children was 7.6%, and females were significantly (P < 0.002) more associated with HHV-8 seropositivity (16%) than males (1.1%).

Conclusions  We detected a higher HHV-8 seroprevalence among the pediatric population in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when compared with similar studies performed in other countries. Nonsexual routes of transmission are a possible explanation for this pattern. The unusual finding of a higher seroprevalence among female children could be explained by a specific route of exposition or even an epidemiological bias.