Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure Linked to Kaposi Sarcoma Risk

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Among HIV-positive men, exposure to UV radiation may increase the risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma.
Among HIV-positive men, exposure to UV radiation may increase the risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma.

Among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive men, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation may increase the risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.1

Previous research established UV radiation as an inducer of herpes simplex virus reactivation and as the primary risk factor for various dermatologic malignancies. But its relationship with human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) infection or risk of Kaposi sarcoma remains unclear.

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To evaluate the association between UV radiation and Kaposi sarcoma, researchers analyzed data from 17,597 Caucasian and African American male veterans infected with HIV between 1986 and 1996. Of those, 422 were diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma.

Men with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer had an 8-fold higher risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma than those without a history of skin cancer (hazard ratio [H], 8.64; 95% CI, 6.23-11.96).

Patients with the highest exposure to UV radiation had a 49% higher risk of Kaposi sarcoma than those with lowest UV radiation exposure among the total population (HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.02-2.16).

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Among Caucasian patients, those with the highest exposure had a 75% increased risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma (HR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.11-2.78).

These findings suggest that residing in locations with high ambient UV radiation at the time of HIV diagnosis may increase the risk for Kaposi sarcoma. Further investigation in a larger prospective trial is warranted.


  1. Cahoon EK, Engels EA, Freedman DM, Norval M, Pfeiffer RM. Ultraviolet radiation and kaposi sarcoma incidence in a nationwide US cohort of HIV-infected men. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016 Oct 22. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw267 [Epub ahead of print]

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