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Kaposi Sarcoma: Causes and Treatment

Literature Review

Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) is a rare type of skin cancer that commonly occurs among people who suffer from suppressed immunity (Khammissa, Pantanowitz & Feller, 2012). Researchers from the University of Washington (2013) believe that developing Kaposi Sarcoma is a defining moment for HIV-infected people because its occurrence marks the evolution of HIV into AIDS. When this happens, Kaposi Sarcoma is life-threatening (University of Washington, 2013). Before the spread of HIV, the American Cancer Society (2014) and Khammissa et al. (2012) said the disease was common in Africa, the Mediterranean region, and among elderly people (in Europe and North America). Although traditional research studies show that HIV commonly occurs among HIV/AIDS victims, developments in AIDS management have forced researchers to reevaluate the nature of the relationship between AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma (Pantanowitz & Feller, 2012).

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In line with the arguments surrounding the contentious relationship between Kaposi Sarcoma and AIDS, Crosetti and Succo (2013) say it is important to understand that the skin cancer manifests in different forms. Furthermore, they say, these different cancer types have unique and varying relationships with HIV/AIDS (Crosetti & Succo, 2013). Without exploring the classifications of Kaposi Sarcoma, Crosetti and Succo (2013) say some cancer strains do not share any relationship with HIV/AIDS. Therefore, they believe understanding the different classifications of the disease and how they relate to the condition is the only way to find out the relationship between Kaposi Sarcoma and AIDS (Crosetti & Succo, 2013).

In an article explaining how Kaposi Sarcoma affects sub-Saharan women, Barnardt (2013) said, even in light of developments in HIV/AIDS treatment, HIV still shares a close relationship with Kaposi Sarcoma. Here, the author said the rare skin cancer shared a close relationship with AIDS because most people who suffered from the disease also suffered from AIDS (Barnardt, 2013). Based on the arguments surrounding the effects of modern HIV treatment methods and HIV, some researchers regard ARV treatment as an anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy for treating Kaposi Sarcoma (Barnardt, 2013; University of Washington, 2013). This therapy emerged from studies that showed a reduction in Kaposi Sarcoma cases among patients that received ARVs (Barnardt, 2013; University of Washington, 2013). The University of Washington (2013) investigated this issue and proposed that ARV treatment reduced Kaposi Sarcoma cases by minimizing HIV replication and reducing the strength of HIV-1 trans-activating protein. Barnardt (2013) and Krown et al. (2014) added to this observation by saying ARVs enhance the immune response against HHV-8 (a HIV pathogenic strain associated with the rare skin condition). Overall, researchers have different views regarding the relationship between HIV/AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma (Krown et al., 2014). Moreover, they propose different degrees of correlation for the two variables (Krown et al., 2014). Therefore, it is pertinent to understand how developments in HIV management affect the relationship between HIV/AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma.

Statement of the problem

Kaposi sarcoma is an uncommon type of skin cancer that does not follow traditional patterns of cancer development, which manifest through the emergence of cancer in one part of the body and its eventual spread to another (American Cancer Society, 2014; Barnardt, 2013; University of Washington, 2013). Instead, Kaposi Sarcoma manifests in different parts of the body, simultaneously. Traditionally, researchers have associated epidemic KS with AIDS (Pantanowitz & Feller, 2012). However, recent developments in HIV/AIDS management have changed this relationship because ARV administration has reduced epidemic KS cases among HIV-infected people (National Cancer Institute, 2014). In fact, researchers from the University of Washington (2013) say AIDS victims who have a CD4 count of more than 250 may not suffer from severe forms of epidemic KS, or even develop the disease in the first place. This change makes it difficult to assume that the traditional relationship between HIV/AIDS and epidemic KS exists. In light of this development, it is important to define the new relationship between HIV/AIDS and epidemic KS.

Null and Alternative Hypothesis

Null Hypothesis: HIV/AIDS shares no correlation with Kaposi Sarcoma

Alternative Hypothesis: HIV/AIDS shares a positive correlation with Kaposi Sarcoma

Significance of the Research Topic

Understanding the nature of the relationship between Kaposi Sarcoma and HIV is important in preventing the occurrence of the cancer (Barnardt, 2013; University of Washington, 2013). Similarly, understanding this relationship is critical in formulating interventions for treating Kaposi Sarcoma. For example, this paper has explained the role of ARV treatments in HIV management and its role in reducing Kaposi Sarcoma cases. If this study affirms the alternative hypothesis (HIV/AIDS shares a positive relationship with Kaposi Sarcoma), it would be easy to propose ARV use as a strategy for preventing the rare skin cancer. Based on these dynamics, understanding the relationship between HIV/AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma, in light of new treatment regimens, would contribute to the development of health interventions for preventing and managing Kaposi Sarcoma. Lastly, the findings of this study would be useful in contributing to the growing body of knowledge surrounding the management and prevention of Kaposi Sarcoma.

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American Cancer Society. (2014). Kaposi Sarcoma. Web.

Barnardt, P. (2013). Managing AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma and pregnancy. S Afr J HIV Med, 14(2), 87-88. doi:10.7196/SAJHIVMED.851

Crosetti, E., & Succo, G. (2013). Non-human immunodeficiency virus-related Kaposi’s sarcoma of the oropharynx: a case report and review of the literature. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 7(293), 16-23.

Khammissa, R., Pantanowitz, L., & Feller, L. (2012). Oral HIV-Associated Kaposi Sarcoma: A Clinical Study from the Ga-Rankuwa Area, South Africa. AIDS Research and Treatment, 2012(873171), 1-9.

Krown, S., Borok, M., Campbell, T., Casper, C., Dittmer, D., Mitsuyasu, R., & Orem, J. (2014). Stage-Stratified Approach to AIDS-Related Kaposi’s Sarcoma: Implications for Resource-Limited Environments. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(23), 2512-2513.

National Cancer Institute. (2014). Kaposi Sarcoma Treatment. Web.

University of Washington. (2013). Dermatologic Manifestations. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, September 8). Kaposi Sarcoma: Causes and Treatment. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, September 8). Kaposi Sarcoma: Causes and Treatment.

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