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Reduced human herpesvirus-8 oropharyngeal shedding associated with protease inhibitor-based antiretroviral therapy



Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) replication increases the risk of Kaposi sarcoma (KS). Highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) reduces the incidence of KS, and regimens that contain protease inhibitors (PIs) may be particularly effective.


To determine whether PI-based HAART regimens may more effectively inhibit HHV-8 shedding compared to regimens without PIs.

Study design

Prospective, observational study of 142 HIV-1 and HHV-8 co-infected men conducted in Seattle, Washington. Quantitative HHV-8 PCR testing was performed on daily swabs of the oropharynx, the primary site of HHV-8 replication. Associations between antiretroviral regimen and detection of HHV-8 DNA in swabs were evaluated using generalized estimating equations.


HHV-8 DNA was detected in 3016 (26%) of 11,608 specimens collected. PI-based HAART was associated with a statistically significantly lower frequency of detection (RR 0.2; 95% CI 0.1-0.5) compared to ART-naïve persons, whereas HAART without a PI was not (RR 0.7; 95% CI 0.4-1.3). Compared to ART-naïve persons, there was also a trend toward lower quantities of HHV-8 detected during treatment with HAART regimens that contained a PI. These associations between PIs and measures of HHV-8 shedding could not be attributed to use of nelfinavir, which inhibits HHV-8 replication in vitro, and were independent of CD4 count and HIV plasma viral load (VL).


HAART regimens that contain PIs appear to decrease HHV-8 shedding compared to NNRTIs. Further study of PI-based HAART is warranted to determine the optimal regimens for prevention and treatment of KS.

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