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Elder woman with KS
Mar 2, 2001

My mother in law was diagnosed with KS about 5 years ago. She died shortly after at the age of 85. How can she have developed this disease being single, heterosexual and of this age? Is KS always related to HIV and AIDS? Thank you so much for answering as this puzzles us for the last couple of years.

Response from Dr. Dezube

There are many forms of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). Your mother-in-law probably had a form called "classic KS" which occurs in elderly patients typically of either Mediterranean (Greek, Italian) or Jewish ancestry. This form is NOT related to HIV infection or to AIDS. Unfortunately now-a-days most people hear of only the AIDS-related KS, which is different than what your mother-in-law probably had. AIDS-related KS can be a bit more aggressive and obviously occurs in HIV-infected individuals. Tom Hanks brought this form of KS into the limelight when he portrayed a young gay man with KS suffering societal abuses in the film "Philadelphia".

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