What to Know About Antiretroviral Therapy for Kaposi Sarcoma

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is for people who have HIV or AIDS. It has these 3 roles:

  • Controls HIV-infected cells

  • Slows virus replication

  • Improves immune function

By treating AIDS, HAART may prevent infections.

Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is the virus that causes AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma (KS). HAART seems to help prevent the complications of HHV-8 infection. Not everyone who has HHV-8 will get KS. For people with HIV, those who are treated with HAART have less risk of developing KS, particularly if the CD4 count stays at (or returns to) a high level. It can effectively treat the tumor and reduce KS symptoms. It is generally given prior to the start of other treatments, such as chemotherapy. Some treatments may require HAART therapy to lower viral load and increase CD4 cell counts before they can be instituted. Research indicates that HAART may do an even better job of fighting KS when paired with chemotherapy .