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Oral Sex may carry AIDS related Cancer Virus

According to researchers in California, the cancerous skin lesions known as Kaposi's sarcoma are densely related to HIV/AIDS, but the virus that causes Kaposi's was widespread among US gay men before the HIV epidemic ever started. Their study also exposed that far into the HIV when more men were implementing safe anal sex but largely not protecting themselves during oral sex--the Kaposi's-linked virus remained common.// They think that transmission routes other than anal sex, including oral sex, may be key in the spread of the cancer-causing virus, called Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV).

According to Dr. Dennis H. Osmond, lead author,that the data strongly suggest that avoiding unprotected anal intercourse is not enough to avoid acquiring this viral infection However, he added, this study cannot establish that positively because it did not look at each man's individual sexual behavior and his risk of KSHV infection. KSHV, also known as human herpesvirus 8, is believed to be necessary for Kaposi's sarcoma to develop. In most healthy people the virus is unlikely to lead to Kaposi's sarcoma, but the immune system damage caused by HIV makes infected individuals susceptible to the cancer.

Because of the cancer's close relationship to HIV and AIDS, experts have suspected that the HIV epidemic triggered the similar one seen with KSHV infection. But in looking at blood samples from homosexual men involved in three San Francisco studies from the late 1970s to the 1990s, Osmond's team found that KSHV was prevalent when HIV infections were still "close to zero." What's more, it remained stable over the two decades--even after both HIV prevalence and unprotected anal sex dropped substantially among men in the study.

From 1975 through 1981, the researchers report, about 20% of the men were positive for KSHV. That percentage held steady through 1996, when about 25% of men had the virus. Yet during the same period, HIV prevalence vari
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