Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare lymphoma associated with Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), and characterized by a malignant body cavity effusion without solid organ or nodal involvement. Prognostic factors in patients with PEL have not been systematically studied. We conducted a literature search for patients with HHV8-positive PEL to identify potential prognostic factors for survival. Our search identified 147 patients, among which 104 patients were HHV8-positive. The median overall survival was 9 months. The median age was 57 years with a male predominance (6:1). Pathologically, 33% of the patients expressed CD20 and 69% expressed CD30. Patients with PEL with > 1 body cavity involved had a median overall survival (OS) of 4 months compared with 18 months in patients with only one cavity involved (p = 0.003). Additionally, in patients with one involved body cavity, pericardial involvement was associated with a longer median OS than pleural followed by peritoneal involvement (40, 27 and 5 months, respectively; p = 0.04). In conclusion, our study suggests that the number and location of body cavities involved are prognostic in patients with PEL.