Kaposi’s sarcoma before and during a human immunodeficiency virus epidemic in Tanzanian children


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Abstract

Background.With the onset of AIDS increased frequency of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) has been reported. However, there is no case-based comparison of childhood (<14 years) KS before and during the HIV pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Here we report on the Tanzanian cancer registry data of pediatric KS in Tanzania and implications with regard to pathogenic factors.Methods.One hundred fifty histologically confirmed pediatric KS (PKS) cases registered during 1968 through 1995 (28 years) were analyzed with regard to demographic and clinical characteristics before and during the AIDS epidemic. Statistical analysis was done with the Epi-Info program and chi square test.Results.Of children with PKS 126 (84%) were male and 24 (16%) were female. The gender ratio was 5.1:1 and 5.4:1 during the endemic and epidemic periods, respectively. The highest occurrence of PKS was observed in the 0- to 5-years age group. Overall 73 (4.9/year) of these cases were registered during the pre and 77 (5.9/year) during the AIDS period. Over time a significant increase in anatomically disseminated KS cases was evident during the AIDS epidemic (P = 0.003).Conclusions.These observations indicate that children younger than 5 years are at high risk for developing KS, possibly reflecting low resistance to human herpesvirus (HHV) 8 infection. It is also likely that an increased susceptibility to HHV8 infection and morbidity is related to progressive immunodeficiency. The increase in AIDS PKS incidence appears to reflect a direct or indirect promoting effect of HIV on the development of KS lesions. Recognition of the high KS risk in small children warrants considerations of possible prevention measures including HIV/HHV8 vaccination and therapeutic options.

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