A study in the August 15 edition of the journal AIDS shows that HIV-positive men who are also coinfected with the human herpesvirus type 8 could be at a significantly higher risk for developing Kaposi's sarcoma than men who don't carry HHV-8, Reuters Health reports. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute studied a group of 132 HIV-positive gay men over several years, during which 31 of the men developed KS, a skin cancer common among late-stage AIDS patients. Men infected with HHV-8 were nearly 12 times more likely to develop KS than those who did not carry the virus, according to the study. KS incidence was highest among those men who tested positive for HHV-8 infection and who also had low T-cell counts. The researchers suggest that HIV-positive men be screened for HHV-8 infection and be treated with prophylactic drugs to prevent KS if they do carry the virus.
Between 15% and 20% of all gay men are believed to be infected with HHV-8, with the percentage rising to between 30% and 50% for HIV-positive gay men. The virus is believed to be spread through sexual activity. Researchers at the University of Washington reported in late 2000 that the virus appears in high concentrations in saliva and could most easily be spread through kissing.