Vaccinia scars associated with improved survival among adults in rural Guinea-Bissau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: In urban Guinea-Bissau, adults with a vaccinia scar had better survival but also a higher prevalence of HIV-2 infection. We therefore investigated the association between vaccinia scar and survival and HIV infection in a rural area of Guinea-Bissau. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In connection with a study of HIV in rural Guinea-Bissau, we assessed vaccinia and BCG scars in 193 HIV-1 or HIV-2 infected and 174 uninfected participants. Mortality was assessed after 2(1/2)-3 years of follow-up. The analyses were adjusted for age, sex, village, and HIV status. The prevalence of vaccinia scar was associated with age, village, and HIV-2 status but not with sex and schooling. Compared with individuals without any scar, individuals with a vaccinia scar had better survival (mortality rate ratio (MR) = 0.22 (95% CI 0.08-0.61)), the MR being 0.19 (95% CI 0.06-0.57) for women and 0.40 (95% CI 0.04-3.74) for men. Estimates were similar for HIV-2 infected and HIV-1 and HIV-2 uninfected individuals. The HIV-2 prevalence was higher among individuals with a vaccinia scar compared to individuals without a vaccinia scar (RR = 1.57 (95% CI 1.02-2.36)). CONCLUSION: The present study supports the hypothesis that vaccinia vaccination may have a non-specific beneficial effect on adult survival.


  • Mette Lundsby Jensen
  • Sangeeta Dave
  • Maarten Schimvan der Loeff
  • Carlos da Costa
  • Tim Vincent
  • Aleksandra Leligdowicz
  • Christine Stabell Benn
  • Adam Roth
  • Henrik Ravn
  • Ida Maria Lisse
  • Hilton Whittle
  • Peter Aaby
External organisations
  • Danish Serum Institute, Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology in the medical area
Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes