Decreased varicella zoster immunity in migrants from sub-Saharan Africa

Svilen Konov, HIV i-Base

A prospective 1 year (2004 to 2005) cohort study investigated immunity against varicella zoster virus (VZV) in HIV-seropositive migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. VZV is ‘an almost ubiquitous, genrally mild’ infection in Western Europe, but is less prevalent in Africa. VZV serology was recorded and analysed, together with patient demographics, including age, sex, parity, and CD4 count, in 278 newly HIV-diagnosed individuals at St James’ Hospital in Dublin. 182/278 subjects were Western European and among them only 6 (3.3%) had negative VZV.

Of the non-nationals, only 18 had a negative serology (p<0.01) indicating non-immunity prevalance of 18.75% in this group. These results show clearly that the sub-Saharan population has lower immunity to VZV, and that HIV-seropositive patients from this geographical background are more at risk of developing the infection.


Pallin M., Loy A., Coughlan S., Bergin C., Mulcachy F., Decreased varicella zoster immunity in migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. 10th European AIDS Conference/EACS, November 17-20, 2005, Dublin, Ireland. Abstract PE18.5/1.

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