Epidemic (human immunodeficiency virus-related) Kaposi's sarcoma in West African women


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Abstract

BackgroundMost patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) experience skin disease at some stage of their illness, either as a presenting feature or as a later manifestation. Different dermatoses may coexist during the course of the infection, and the unusual nature of the skin lesions can make an accurate diagnosis difficult. Kaposi's sarcoma is one of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining skin diseases and may coexist with other lesions in AIDS patients. Kaposi's sarcoma is caused by human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), which is mainly transmitted through male homosexual behavior, and is less common in women than in men.MethodsThe clinical, histopathologic, and therapeutic aspects of AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma in three women (age, 18–34 years) who presented to the dermatology clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria, were studied over 18 months, beginning in August and September 1998.ResultsAt presentation, the condition of the three patients was generally poor, with severe anemia and extensive dark-brown papules, plaques, and nodules. Mucosal involvement was extensive. Generalized lymphadenopathy was found in two patients, one of whom had extensive coexisting dermatophytosis. All three women were in stage III/IV of the disease at the time of initial presentation. Death occurred within days in one and within 7–8 months in two.ConclusionsBecause these female patients with epidemic Kaposi's sarcoma lived in an almost entirely heterosexual population, the mode of contamination with HHV8 was obscure. The course of the disease was pervasive, aggressive, and devastating.

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