The combination of interleukin 2 (IL-2) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) represents an emerging strategy in the treatment of patients infected with HIV. Aside from its immunomodulatory role, however, IL-2 may induce replication of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)/Kaposi sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus. We retrospectively evaluated HHV-8 plasma viremia and cellular load, as well as anti-HHV-8 antibody titers, in sequential samples from 84 patients receiving ART alone or in combination with IL-2. At baseline, HHV-8 plasma viremia was present only in 2 HHV-8-seropositive patients in whom KS subsequently developed during or immediately after termination of IL-2 therapy. The level of viremia increased during follow-up and peaked at the time of the clinical manifestation of KS. Moreover, transient peaks of HHV-8 viremia were temporally associated with administration of IL-2. HHV-8 plasma viremia was never detected in the other 47 patients receiving IL-2 nor in 35 controls treated only with ART. Thus, IL-2 therapy seems safe in most patients infected with both HIV and HHV-8, except for those with detectable HHV-8 viremia, who may not be eligible for IL-2 treatment. (C) 2002 by The American Society of Hematology.
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