The Kaposi's Sarcoma Enigma

Tom Keske tkeske at
Fri Sep 3 23:20:58 EST 1999


Kapsosi's sarcoma becomes paradoxically more of an engima, as
understanding of the disease becomes more clear.  Behind the
shroud of enigma are some potentially disturbing possibilities.

Appearance of Kaposis's sarcoma (KS) was a key factor in making a
diagnosis of "AIDS", during the early days of the epidemic.
It was considered an "opportunistic infection", occurring because
of a weakened immune system that could not suppress it.

 KS is often termed a "cancer", but it is not clear that this is
accurate [1].  It might be better characterized as an out-of-control
inflammatory response leading to abnormal blood vessel growth.

It is also not clear that it is simply an "opportunistic" infection,
that is normally suppressed in healthy immune systems.  Cases of
KS exist also in HIV negative men, including gay men.

Most recent research seems to suggest that KS is caused by one
or more variants of herpes virus: HHV-8, HHV-6, and KSHV.

Researchers in Amsterdam report data that "strongly confirm" the
causal role of HHV-8 in KS [2].

Dr. Robert Gallo believes that HHV-8 is a cause but not a directly
transforming virus in KS [3].

HHV-8 is believed to spread sexually.  The Kaposi's sarcoma
herpesvirus (KSHV) has been found in semen [4].

This would make intuitive sense, since infections of more
conventional, known versions of herpes obviously spread
through sexual contact.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that variations
of these herpesviruses are the cause of "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome",
which appeared in Europe and America at about the same time
as AIDS, and was dubbed the "Yuppie Flu" [1].

However, here is where some of the engima begins.  There are
some problems with this model.

Studies of KS in Africa show inconsistencies: occurrence of KS
in sexually inexperienced children;  overwhelming male
preponderance in an almost exclusively heterosexual population;
rarity of concordant couples in areas of very high incidence;
sequestration of high incidence to Eastern and Central Africa;
and regional variations in incidence even in high-incidence
countries.  All of these factors are difficult to reconcile with
sexual transmission, according to the researchers [5].

The model of sexual transmission also does not explain the
high incidence of KS in gay men, relative to non-gay AIDS
victims.  For example, KS appears 20 times more often in
gay AIDS victims, compared to HIV-positive hemophiliacs [4].
KS is quite rare in American, heterosexual AIDS victims.

The model of sexual transmission also does not explain the
steep decline in KS, after the initial burst in the 1980s.
It should have continued to grow in proportion to the
spread of HIV, which is also sexually spread.

Conventional herpes is equal-opportunity for males and
females, and is a common infection among heterosexuals,
as well as gays.

The steep imbalance, with KS occurring far more
often in males, exists in America as well as in Africa.  Most
of those males are gay males- KS is seen only occasionally
in heterosexual AIDS, and is extremely rare in children
(unlike Africa). [6].

Similar to AIDS itself, here is another disease that has a
peculiar affinity both for black Africans and white, gay
American males.

If we were to look for factors that might spread KS in non-sexual
ways, yet would specifically affect gay men, what might some
of those factors be?  What affects gay men, but not straight men?
What affects males but not females?

 Moreover, what might tie together gay, white, American males
with black Africans?

Some possiblities:

    * gay men have used certain substances such as poppers and
        various lubricants, which women and straight men do not.

    * gay men received certain vaccines in the late 1970's, which
        women and straight men did not.

The "popper" connection has long been alleged.  A more recent
twist on this is from Dr. Stephen Byrnes, Ph.D., who maintains
that benzene in poppers and lubricants may be related to KS [7].

However, it is the vaccine link that more plausibly could tie together
white, American gay males, with black Africans.

According to Julian Crib, a leading science journalist in Australia:

    "In 1997 an important new piece of evidence came to light in
      a long-running libel case in the United States.  In testimony
      presented to the court, Professor Richard Middleton provided
     documentary scientific evidence that from the early 1960s
     onward, there had been an explosive epidemic of fulminating
      Kaposi's sarcoma - a cancer now linked to AIDS - in Central
      Africa.  The highest incidence of this deadly cancer had
      coincided in an extraordinary way with the main vaccination
      sites, Middleton said." [8]

This is referring to polio vaccines that were administered on a
wide scale in Africa, during that time period.

Curiously gay men also had a burst of KS,  after vaccines given
in the late 1970's.

Two different regions, two different times, two different
populations, two different vaccines.

The possibility of multiple vaccine accidents is unsettling enough.
Even more so is the thought that repeated such incidents
might also be suggestive of  possible deliberation.

So long as we still live under the thumb of political parties
and religious groups that routinely dehumanize gays, we
should have a very low tolerance for "enigmas" such as

Tom Keske
Boston, Mass


[1] "From Italy Comes New Research Showing the K.S. Link between
       Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and AIDS, Neenyah Ostrom, New York
       Native, issue #633





[6] AU - McCArth GA; Kampmann B; Novelli V; Miller RF;
      Mercey DE; Gibb D TI- Vertical transmission of Kaposi's
      Sarcoma.  Community Health Services Trust, London



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