Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) one of seven currently known human cancer virus, is also the eighth human herpesvirus. Kaposi’s sarcoma, caused by the virus, is common in AIDS patients, primary effusion lymphoma, and some types of multicentric Castelman’s disease.
Moritz Kaposi discovered the blood vessel tumor, in 1872, which would eventually be names Kaposi’s sarcoma. It was originally though that KS was of Jewish and Mediterranean origins until it was found to be common throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Through correlation of AIDS and KS scientists Valerie Beral, Thomas Peterman, and Harold Jaffe concluded that KS is caused by an unknown sexually transmitted virus that usually only causes tumors in an immuno-suppressed host. Yuan Chance and Patrick S. Moore were the first to isolate the DNA fragments of KS in 1994.
This discovery was met with controversy and wasn’t settled until enough data was collected to show that KSHV was a causative agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma. The virus is known to be widespread infection of people living in sub-Saharan Africa. Gay and bi-sexual men are more susceptible to infection.
The virus can infect healthy individuals who show no signs or symptoms due to the immune system keeping it in check. It is thought that the infection is life long but will be kept in check by a healthy immune system. KS only shows up when a host becomes immuno-suppressed. One can become infected by having unprotected sex with someone that is infected with KSHV but asymptomatic. Kaposi’s sarcoma is usually a treatable localized tumor that can be treated either surgically or through local irradiation. Antiviral drugs have been used to successfully prevent development of KS.