Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is commonly associated with AIDS, but was originally described in elderly men of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Eastern European ethnic origin—so-called 'classic' KS. It has also been documented in chronically immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients. Within the HIV-infected population, variations in development of KS exists; the risk of KS is highest in HIV-infected homosexual/bisexual men, compared with only a minority of HIV-infected haemophiliacs, thus supporting the role of a sexually transmitted agent in the development of KS.
Using PCR, herpes-like DNA sequences have been demonstrated in AIDS-associated KS lesions. These sequences have been shown to be non-human and closely related to gamma herpes viruses, EBV, and the simian herpes virus (HVS). These herpes-like DNA sequences have been identified in all KS tissue and are thought to represent a new herpes virus, HHV 8 or KS-associated herpes virus (KSHV). This supports earlier epidemiological data suggesting an infective agent in the development of this tumour. Like EBV, HHV8 is lymphotrophic and has also been identified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and two lymphoproliferative conditions, the rare body cavity lymphoma and in multicentric Castleman's disease.
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