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KS Diagnosis, but HIV negative. How is this possible? Am I contagious?
Aug 18, 2001

I have recently been diagnosed with Kaposi's Sarcoma after a lesion was removed from the back of my leg. I was subsequently tested for HIV, and the result was negative. How common is it to have KS, and be HIV negative at the same time? Does a diagnosis of KS mean that I have AIDS even though my HIV test is negative? How can I have KS, and not be HIV positive? All the material i read seems to say that KS is an AIDS-related cancer. I am soooooooooo confused. Is KS contagious?

Response from Dr. Dezube

Yes, you can have Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) without being HIV positive! You are indeed correct, however, this is a bit unusual and is not what is typically described in what you read or what you see (such as Tom Hanks movie "Philadelphia", in which he portrays an HIV-positive gay man with KS). KS is caused by a herpesvirus called HHV-8 or Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (this is different than the typical herpes that many people get on their mouth or in their genital area). Typically the HIV-negative form of KS is less aggressive than the HIV-positive form, so hopefully your KS will be a mild case.

Is KS contagious? This is quite a loaded question. The virus, which causes KS, can indeed be spread through "deep kissing" (that's the terminology adopted by the New England Journal of Medicine). That said, we are exposed daily to many, many virus and bacteria. This comes with being a living human being on the face of the earth. I would NOT be overly concerned about being infectious, since we are all spreading viruses on a regular basis, and most of the recipients' bodies deal with these infections quite well. In fact, the vast majority of gay men with HHV-8 (Kaposi's sarcoma herpres virus) do NOT have KS and do not even know that they are harboring the virus. Hope this helps. You should do well. GOOD LUCK. BD.


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