To evaluate whether or not human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8) can be transmitted through a non-sexual route a serological survey was carried out in a group of 51 catholic nuns. The seroprevalence rate and the geometrical mean antibody titre to anti-latent HHV8 antigen were similar in nuns and in a group of 60 women, matched by age, in the general population (27 vs. 24%; 1028 vs. 1575, respectively). Moreover, by using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR), HHV8 DNA sequences were detected in 7 of 16 (43·8%) saliva and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with classical Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and in 3 out of 7 (42%) AIDS-KS patients. None of 5 HIV positive persons who did not have KS tested positive for HHV8 DNA. HHV8 DNA sequences were also detected in 2 of 12 (17%) saliva and 1 PBMC sample out of 12 healthy HHV8 positive individuals (age range: 30–80 years old). This paper suggests that non-sexual transmission of HHV8 is operating in our geographical setting and saliva may be a potential source of HHV8 spreading in the general population.
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