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Incidence and Prevalence of KS
Sep 3, 1996

What are the incidence and prevalence of KS? Have they been increasing or declining? I have heard about a topical gel in clinical trials. Can you tell me anything about it?

Response from Dr. Gallant

It is estimated that Kaposi's sarcoma occurs in about 20% of gay men with AIDS and 1 to 5% of other people with AIDS, but the incidence and prevalence vary geographically as well.

It's been known for some time that KS behaves a lot like a sexually transmitted disease. It was most common among gay men, especially gay men living in big cities on the East and West coasts. It was more common among men who had a lot of sexual partners, and there appeared to be a link with oral-anal sex (rimming). Women who got KS were more likely to have acquired HIV from a bisexual man than from drug use or contact with a heterosexual man. Finally, the incidence of KS decreased over time, probably due to changes in sexual practices.

So it's no surprise that the cause of KS now appears to be the virus HHV-8 (human herpesvirus-8), also known as KSHV (Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus). There's a lot of research going on now into the epidemiology of this virus-- how common is it in various populations who don't have KS, for example. And of course, there's great interest in the possibility of antiviral therapy directed against HHV-8.

I'm afraid I haven't heard of any clinical trials involving a topical gel to treat KS, but they may be out there.



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