Additional Risk Factors Determined For HHV-8

WESTPORT, Conn-The human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8) is sexually transmitted; however, research shows there may be additional risk factors associated with the disease.

A study conducted in Seattle-King County, Wash, examined a group of young men infected with HHV-8. This form of herpes is responsible for causing HIV-related Kaposi's sarcoma.

Catherine Diamond, MD, of the University of California at Irvine Medical Center, obtained blood specimens and surveyed 488 men ages 15 to 22 years, 74% of whom were men who reported having sex with men (MSM). HHV-8 seropositivity was 6% among MSM and 5% among those who reported being strictly heterosexual.

HHV-9 seropositivity was associated with unprotected receptive anal sex, use of injected drugs, and cytomegalovirus seropositivity, among MSM. This group also had significantly more lifetime male partners than their seronegative counterparts.

Among the heterosexual men who were seropositive for HHV-8, there was no association found with number of sexual partners, history of sexually transmitted disease, or drug use. None of these men had had sex with an HIV-infected partner within the past 6 months. Diamond's group theorized the heterosexual men acquired their infections through salivary contact or sex with women.

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