BACKGROUND. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on clinical characteristics of presentation and the natural history of Kaposi sarcoma (KS) in patients already receiving HAART at the time of KS diagnosis. METHODS. The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study comparing epidemiologic, clinical, and outcome data for 160 patients who were naive to HAART at the time of KS diagnosis (KS-naive) with the corresponding data for 51 patients already receiving HAART at the time of KS diagnosis (KS-HAART). The analysis included all patients with a diagnosis of KS since January 1996 within two Italian cohorts of patients with human immunodeficiency virus. RESULTS. Immunologic and virologic status at the time of KS diagnosis were significantly more favorable in the KS-HAART group than in the KS-naive group. The frequency of cutaneous involvement was similar in both groups, but cutaneous disease was more indolent among KS-HAART patients, with 1 anatomic site of involvement in 9 patients (21%) and less than 10 lesions in 26 patients (60%), compared with 16 patients (12%; P = 0.06) and 47 patients (34%; P = 0.01), respectively, in the KS-naive group. A smaller proportion of KS-HAART patients presented with visceral disease (24% vs. 39%; P = 0.06); in particular, gastrointestinal tract involvement was significantly less frequent among KS-HAART patients (14%) compared with KS-naive patients (28 %; P = 0.05). Median survival was not reached in either group, and the 3-year survival rates of KS-HAART patients (64%) and KS-naive patients (78%) were not significantly different. CONCLUSIONS. The data from the current study indicate that KS exhibits a less aggressive presentation in patients already receiving HAART compared with patients who are naive to HAART at KS diagnosis. Natural history and outcome do not appear to be influenced by the initiation of HAART before development of KS. © 2003 American Cancer Society.
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