Establishing a multidisciplinary AIDS-associated Kaposi’s sarcoma clinic: Patient characteristics, management and outcomes

  • H Burger
  • Z Ismail
  • J.J. Taljaard


Background. Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) typically occurs in the setting of immunodeficiency and specifically in the presence of HIV infection, when it is called AIDS-associated KS (AIDS-KS). In spite of impressive gains in the South African (SA) antiretroviral therapy (ART) roll-out programme since 2004, AIDS-KS still causes significant morbidity and mortality, and the treatment of advanced disease can be challenging owing to the centralisation of oncology services and the high incidence of concurrent infections. In 2014, a multidisciplinary AIDS-KS clinic (MKSC) was established at Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, with the goal of optimising management of AIDS-KS patients.

Objectives. To report on the characteristics and outcomes of patients seen during the first 6 months after the inception of the MKSC.

Methods. A retrospective observational study was performed of all new cases referred to the MKSC from February to August 2014.

Results. Forty-two patients were included in the study. The median age was 34 years (range 20 - 60). Forty-one patients were on ART at time of diagnosis or were initiated by a median of 3 months after diagnosis. The median CD4+ count before diagnosis was 147 cells/μL (range 4 - 811). The HIV viral load was undetectable in 22 cases (52.4%). Thirty-eight patients (90.5%) were classified as AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) poor risk, 10 patients (23.8%) had visceral KS, 14 patients (33.3%) were on tuberculosis (TB) treatment at time of presentation, and 22 patients (52.4%) received oncological therapy in addition to ART. After median follow-up of 25.6 months, 2-year overall survival (OS) was 61.1%. On univariate analysis, factors significantly associated with poor 2-year OS included ACTG S1 stage (S = systemic illness), visceral KS, being on TB treatment, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score >2. In the T1 (T = tumour extent) subgroup, receiving chemotherapy was significantly associated with improved 2-year OS.

Conclusions. Advanced AIDS-KS significantly affects young people in the Western Cape Province of SA despite 10 years of ART roll-out. There is a high prevalence of concomitant TB infection that could adversely affect adherence and response to treatment. Despite advanced disease at presentation and palliative treatment intent, survival outcomes are encouraging and seem to be positively affected by the increased use of chemotherapy. A multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis, staging and treatment and the exploration of prognostic indices specific to the sub-Saharan setting would be valuable in designing appropriate treatment algorithms.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-5135
print ISSN: 0256-9574