What is Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (HHV-8)?

Herpes Virus Associated with Kaposi Sarcoma

The herpes virus that causes cancer of the skin, lymph nodes, mucous membranes, and sometimes other organs.

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Association with Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (HHV-8) is a herpes infection associated with Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a cancer of the cells that line the lymphatic and blood vessels.

The most common type of Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) develops in HIV-infected individuals and is considered to be an AIDS-defining illness— when a person with HIV has KS, they officially have AIDS (1). HHV-8 can cause KS when the immune system is impaired for other reasons, such as chronic diseases and immunosuppressive medications.

In patients with HIV-associated KS, purple, red, or brown lesions on the skin are the first sign. The lesions can develop inside the mouth and inner eyelids.

Human Herpesvirus-8

HHV-8 infection is much more common than Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS), meaning most people infected with HHV-8 do not get KS and never show any symptoms. Less than 10 percent of Americans have an HHV-8 infection (2).

Like other herpes viruses, HHV-8 is spread through bodily fluids. In children, HHV-8 infection symptoms have been shown to be nonspecific and include fever, rash, and upper respiratory tract infection (3).

HHV-8 may also be linked with primary effusion lymphoma and Castleman’s disease.

HHV-8 treatment depends on the diagnosis and can include radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.


  1. What Is Kaposi Sarcoma? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kaposi-sarcoma/about/what-is-kaposi-sarcoma.html. Accessed April 1, 2019.
  2. What Causes Kaposi Sarcoma? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kaposi-sarcoma/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html. Accessed April 1, 2019.
  3. Dow DE, Cunningham CK, Buchanan AM. A Review of Human Herpesvirus 8, the Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus, in the Pediatric Population. Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3933043/. Published March 2014. Accessed April 1, 2019.

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