Objective: To investigate the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on circulating Kaposi sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) load in HIV-infected individuals with and without KS.
Design: Twenty-nine HIV-infected subjects (21 with KS and 8 without KS) were recruited for the study; they were prospectively studied before and at regular intervals during HAART.
Methods: Patients with KS were clinically assessed using Adult Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) criteria, and sequential blood samples were obtained from all patients for determination of plasma HIV-1 load, CD4 cell count, titer of antibody to KSHV, and KSHV load.
Results: Ten of 21 patients with KS had a favorable KS response (complete response, 6; partial response, 4) with HAART alone. Of the 20 subjects with detectable KSHV viremia prior to HAART, over one half (12 [60%]) had an undetectable KSHV load with antiretroviral therapy. There was no significant difference between subjects receiving protease inhibitor- or nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based treatment combinations. Achieving undetectable KSHV viremia is associated with a better clinical outcome in patients with KS.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time that both protease inhibitor-based and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based antiretroviral treatment combinations may lead to an undetectable KSHV load and confirm that an undetectable KSHV load is associated with KS regression. There was no clear association between CD4 cell count response and KS response to HAART, but there was a significant relationship between HIV load response to HAART and clinical improvement of KS.