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Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Dramatically Reduces Incidence of Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Dramatically Reduces Incidence of Kaposi’s Sarcoma

LONDON—Since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART),
the incidence of HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma has plummeted (ASCO abstract
1639). "Of the more than 4,500 HIV-positive patients we’ve been
following since January of 1996 in the post-HAART era, about two-thirds have
been on HAART," said lead investigator Mark Bower, FRCP, PhD,
consultant in oncology at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.
"The chance of developing Kaposi’s sarcoma is dramatically reduced in
those patients on antiretroviral therapy."

The Chelsea-Westminster cohort is the largest prospectively collected HIV
cohort in Europe, comprising 8,636 HIV-positive patients, including 1,023
patients (1,012 male) with Kaposi’s sarcoma, and representing 44,864
patient years of follow-up. Numerous other cohort studies have confirmed a
decline in the incidence of HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma since the HAART
era.

Pre- and Post-HAART

In this study, investigators compared 831 cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma in
the pre-HAART era, from 1988 to 1995, with 192 cases in the HAART era, from
1996 to 1999. Age at diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma was lower in the pre-HAART
era (mean 36.7 years vs 38.7 years, P = .002) and the CD4 cell count was
lower (mean 129/µL vs 187/µL, P < .0001).

In the HAART era, only 58/192 (30.2%) were receiving HAART at the time
Kaposi’s sarcoma was diagnosed. In 137 of 192 patients (71.4%), Kaposi’s
sarcoma was the first HIV-associated diagnosis. Although nadir CD4 cell
count before diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma (mean 141/µL) in patients on
HAART was similar to that in patients not on HAART, those patients who were
on HAART at the time of Kaposi’s sarcoma diagnosis had higher CD4 cell
counts (mean 203/µL vs 136/µL, P = .002), suggesting that the Kaposi’s
sarcoma did not develop because of failure of the HAART.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma in HAART Era

"Highly active antiretroviral therapy has reduced the incidence of
Kaposi’s sarcoma, prolongs the time to treatment failure, and may lead to
Kaposi’s sarcoma resolution in those affected," said coauthor Mark
Nelson, MA, MBBS, consultant in genitourinary medicine at Chelsea and
Westminster Hospital. "We found that in the HAART era, Kaposi’s
sarcoma diagnosis usually coincided with that of HIV. Those individuals who
develop Kaposi’s sarcoma while receiving HAART are usually experiencing
treatment failure."

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