Objective: We present the largest longitudinal study to date that examines the association between Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS) disease progression and the presence and viral load of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8).
Methods: Ninety-six men were enrolled at HIV clinics in Atlanta, Georgia, who had KS (n = 47) or were without KS but seropositive for HHV-8. Visits occurred at 6-month intervals for 2 years at which the patient's KS status was evaluated and oral fluid and blood were collected for quantification of HHV-8 DNA and antibodies.
Results: The presence of HHV-8 DNA in blood was more common (P < 0.001) and the viral load higher (P < 0.001) in men with KS in comparison with men without KS. Mean HHV-8 viral loads in blood and oral fluids were associated with disease status, being highest among patients with progressing KS, intermediate among patients with stable KS, and lowest among patients with regressing KS. Consistent with our previous report high antibody titers to HHV-8 orf 65 were inversely associated with HHV-8 shedding in oral fluid.
Conclusions: We observed a significant association between changes in KS disease severity and the presence and viral load of HHV-8. HHV-8 viral load in blood may provide useful information to clinicians for assessment of the risk of further disease progression in patients with KS.