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How do elderly men in the Meditteranean region get KS if the virus is sexually transmitted?
Sep 3, 2001

KS, I believe, was traditionally in the past more common in the Mediterranean and Middle East among elderly men, correct? How are these elderly men contracting this disease caused by a Herpes Virus? Please don't say that they are going to prostitutes! Why aren't younger men in this region getting it? Aren't they more sexually active? The logic behind this equation doesn't add up!

Response from Dr. Dezube

You ask an excellent question, one which has challanged researchers. All forms of KS are caused by a herepsvirus (also known as HHV-8 or Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus). This herpesvirus is found predominately in the saliva (this is true for most types of herpesvirus). [Note that this is a very different situation than the HIV virus which loves the genital area.] So the HHV-8 virus is spread via saliva and is found quite frequently, not just among gay men, but also in the Meditterean region. It is not uncommon for certain viruses to have a predilection for a specific geographic area. HOWEVER, only a minorty of people infected with this virus will actually develop KS. So, although it is true that many in the Mediterranean region may harbor the virus, most do NOT have Kaposi's sarcoma. As these inhabitants in this region get older and their immune systems weaken, many of them develop KS. Hope this helps answer your question.

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