Kaposi’s sarcoma is the result of infection with the Human Herpes Virus type 8. In the pre 1980’s, Kaposi’s was an uncommon disease of elderly white males of a northern Mediterranean origin. Although considered a cancer, it evolved slowly over a number of years with low morbidity and mortality.
Over the past 25 years, latent viral infection was discovered in a much larger segment of the population. It only became clinically significant when the immune system was suppressed by the AIDS virus or chemotherapy. It appears more as a tissue reaction pattern than a true malignancy. Interestingly, wide spread disease can regress completely when chemotherapy is discontinued and the immune system is allowed to recover.
Today, its recognition is very helpful in identifying patients with HIV infections. It may actually be the first clinical clue suggesting the correct underlying diagnosis.