HAART in hand: The change in Kaposi's sarcoma presentation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

S Afr Med J. 2016 May 11;106(6). doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i6.10333.


Background: HIV/AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (HIV-KS) is a public health problem in South Africa (SA). It is AIDS defining. There have been no studies evaluating its prevalence since the national roll-out of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

Objective: To evaluate the effect of HAART on the disease profile of HIV-KS in KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN), SA.

Methods: Charts of patients with histologically confirmed HIV-KS were reviewed at an oncology clinic in KZN. The significance of associations of HAART with age, gender, CD4 count, urban/rural residence, fungating lesions, ulceration and lymphoedema, and treatment delay, was determined by t-tests for normally distributed continuous variables and χ2 tests for categorical variables. Logistic regression models were used to analyse the association of HAART with CD4 count.

Results: Of 198 patients, 194 were documented as HIV-positive; 168 (86.6%) were on HAART at the time of their KS diagnosis. The mean CD4 count of 266 cells/μL was higher than that in previous studies at this site. The mean age at presentation was 36.6 (standard deviation 10.1) years. Females presented at a younger mean age than males (p<0.001). The mean age of females on HAART was 34.7 years and that of males 39.0 years (p=0.003). HAART-naive patients were three times more likely than those receiving HAART (15.4% v. 4.8%) to have visceral involvement (p=0.03).

Conclusions: HAART use has resulted in outcome improvement. Mean age at presentation has increased in the group as a whole and for females in particular. The trend in mean CD4 counts has shown positive growth. Females no longer shoulder a disproportionate burden of disease.