Dr. Rich My friend has been diagnosed with idiopathic primary pulmonary artery hypertension. He is 51 and is on oxygen and various medications. I was looking on the web for more information on his condition and treatments. I read an article on Wikipedia that says that there may be a link between herpes virus 8 and this condition. I know that herpes 8 causes Kaposi's Sarcoma in people whose immune systems are compromised and that the virus can be transmitted in saliva. My friend is not immuno compromised. Is it possible that this virus caused his condition? We are both heterosexual. If he did have this virus am I or his family at risk of getting the virus and developing pulmonary hypertension from casual contact with him?
Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated!
First, I am sorry to hear about your friend and his condition.
Regarding your question about HHV-8 and pulmonary hypertension: In 2003, a study was published suggesting an association between this virus and idiopathic PH. Two subsequent studies were performed which did not find this association to be true in the end. So, the jury in some respects is still out in terms of whether his virus: a) has any role in "causing" the PH and/or b) whether it simply happens to be a common innocent bystander in patients with idiopathic PH but has no role in causing the disease or c) none of the above at all.
Most importantly, however, you or anybody else who is in contact with him has NOTHING to worry about in terms of developing PH. This includes via touching, exchange of bodily fluids, etc. This includes if he has or has ever had that particular virus (which, by the way, is a very common virus that kids get all the time and causes a "cold"). There is nothing at all to worry about. In fact, I encourage any and all of his friends and family to hug him/kiss him, hold his hand, etc as he deals with this difficult illness. There is nothing at all to worry about here (but thank you for your excellent question).
Thank you for your response Dr. Rich! Just to be clear are you saying that HHV-8 which causes Kaposi's Sarcoma is only dangerous to people whose immune systems are compromised by HIV or for some other reason?
This is essentially what I am saying. It is a virus (like many), which can contribute to medical conditions in those whose immune systems are suppressed (ie in HIV like you suggested). One day, we might learn more about this and other viruses but for now, nothing for you to worry about in terms of his "HHV-8 status".
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