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Kaposi's sarcoma in sub-Saharan Africa: a current perspective

Mosam, Aa; Aboobaker, Ja; Shaik, Fb

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: April 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 119–123
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e328335b01a
Skin and soft tissue infections: Edited by Roderick J. Hay

Purpose of review The aim of this review is to summarize the most recent published literature on HIV/AIDS Kaposi's sarcoma in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We attempted to update readers on the epidemiology of Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus infection and HIV Kaposi's sarcoma in SSA, as well as clinical features, therapy and immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome associated with HIV Kaposi's sarcoma.

Recent findings Seroprevalence rates of Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus differ across SSA; it is low in South African children as compared to endemic areas like Uganda. The major route of transmission in SSA is horizontal rather than sexual. The incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma has increased exponentially with the HIV/AIDS pandemic with a shift in trend demonstrating a dramatic increase in females and occurrence in younger individuals. Kaposi's sarcoma specific therapy is underutilized due to poor access to highly active antiretroviral therapy and financial constraints in SSA. As highly active antiretroviral therapy becomes available, clinicians treating HIV/AIDS in SSA need to have a high index of suspicion of Kaposi's sarcoma immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome events.

Summary Kaposi's sarcoma is a public health concern in SSA. More studies appropriate to therapy for Kaposi's sarcoma in resource-poor environments like SSA are imperative. We are hopeful that with the increased availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy, the incidence of HIV Kaposi's sarcoma will decrease and management will improve, as it has in the West.

aDepartment of Dermatology, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

bSA Columbia Fogarty AITRP, Congella, Durban, South Africa

Correspondence to Anisa Mosam, Room 327, 3rd Floor, Medical School, 719 Umbilo Road, Congella, Durban 4013, South Africa Tel: +27 31 2694565; fax: +27 31 2604420; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.