Influence of HIV epidemic on the incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma in Zambian children.
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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-associated Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is well documented in adults. However, very little information is available about KS in the pediatric age group. A retrospectively study was undertaken at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Lusaka, Zambia, to define the incidence and clinical profile of KS in Zambian children over the last 13 years and to determine the influence, if any, of the current human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic on the pattern of pediatric KS. All the histopathological records from 1980 to 1992 were reviewed and all cases of KS along with the total number of malignancies, both in children and adults, were analyzed. Along with this, 17 of 23 case files of pediatric KS patients treated at the UTH since 1984 were retrieved and clinical details recorded. Of a total of 915 cases of KS, 85 (9.25%) were in children < 14 years of age. The age ranged from 7 months to 14 years, with an average of 5.62 years; the male/female ratio was 1.76:1. A significant increase in the incidence of pediatric KS has been recorded since 1987 (p < 0.001). This coincides with the advent of the HIV epidemic in the country. The disease was aggressive and fulminant in pediatric patients. More than 80% HIV seropositivity was detected. Children with blood transfusion-related HIV infection had cutaneous or lymphocutaneous disease, indicating that the mode of acquisition of HIV infection may influence the clinical appearance of KS. Thus, HIV-associated KS in children is becoming a common entity in Zambia. An urgent prospective epidemiologic study is needed to address this problem in HIV-affected regions.
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