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Symptoms of Kaposi's Sarcoma
Mar 2, 2001

My partner has decided to stop taking the 'cocktail' drugs due to the gastrointestinal side effects he could no longer tolerate. He has made the very difficult decision to treat opportunistic infections instead. His viral load is literally 'off the charts', it is so high. His C4 count is less than 10. He has encountered and successfully fought off many recurring cases of thrush and various skin rashes which lasted for months. However, just yesterday he discovered a small purplish patch on one of his legs. It is not raised in any noticeable way, and is no bigger than the head of a pencil eraser. It is the only one of its kind on his body. It is not 'hairy' and has a kind of 'c' or 'u' shape. When pressed, it produces no pain or discomfort. Can this be Kaposi's Sarcoma? If so, can you identify what is used to treat it, and what is its normal progression if untreated? Can you tell more about how to recognize KS or offer me a link or site on the internet to get more education about this so I can be as supportive to him as possible?

Response from Dr. Dezube

The purplish lesion can indeed be KS. A simple skin biopsy would give a definitive answer. KS can be very variable in that some patients do NOT develop progressive disease, while other patients develop more lesions as time progresses, particularly given your partner"s CD4 count and viral load. Basically in a month's time or so, you'll get an idea as to how agressive his KS will be (if indeed he has KS). Would he reconsider HAART therapy???

If the KS is really no more than a few spots, then these can be treated with intralesional chemotherapy (a health provider injects chemotherapy directly into the skin) or alternatively PanRetin gel, which is an FDA-approved gel which he could apply to the lesions in the comfort of his home. I would recommend that he see his doctor who could check him for more serious disease (by performing a chest x-ray to see if it's in his lungs and by checking his bowel movement for blood to see if it involves his bowels).

Again I would like to emphasize that KS can often remain in hibernation despite what you may see in the Tom Hanks movie "Philadelphia". If there is any progression of his KS, I would highly recommend that he see someone familiar with the disease.

Spreading of lesions and KS (kissing, touching)
Spreading KS

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