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Question regarding Human Herpesvirus8 (HHV8)

Hello Doctor(s),

First, I have to confess that I am a bit of a hypochondriac. Now that I have that out of the way, I will share my situation: I am a 29 year gay old male and I will be 30 next month.

Lately I have been reading about HHV8 and how it is spread through saliva and may be a causative factor in the development of kaposis sarcoma and lymphoma cancer. I read that most HIV-positive gay males carry the HHV8 virus.

About five years ago, I dated a man who was HIV-positive. We never had sex, but we kissed several times, some of it being "deep kissing". At the time, I thought this was "safe" and I didn't want to make him feel more stigmatized by keeping a total "hands-off" policy. We agreed to remain friends. At the time we kissed, he never had visible signs of KS. Needless to say, I regret what I did and I regret being so liberal and letting my compassion override my sense of safety. I am convinced I probably now have HHV8 and I don't know how to tell my current boyfriend.

My current boyfriend and I are in a monogamous relationship and we are both HIV negative, Hep A / B negative, Herpes1&2 negative, and both free of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Neither of us have any visible genital warts and we hope to maintain our healthy status....but there is that lingering fear of HHV8 that I am carrying from my past kissing incident with the HIV-positive guy. My questions are:

1.) Should I try to find a lab to test for HHV8? or would you know one I could use?

2.) Is there a high rate of cancer for people who have HHV8 that you know about? In other words, should I expect it to become malignant sometime in my life?

3.) Should I follow the general anti-cancer diet of lots of antioxidants and fruits/veggies in order to keep HHV8 from gaining a foothold if it's there?

4.) As an HIV-negative person (and if I have HHV8?) are my odds of never having a cancer from HHV8 pretty good?

Thank you in advance, Dr. Hook and Handsfield for your time and consideration.

2 Responses
300980 tn?1194929400
Welcome to the STDF Forum.  You are asking good questions however, for the most part these questions are questions that there are not good data on at present. There is a strong association between HHV-8 and the development of Kaposi's sarcoma in HIV infected men.  It is presumed that the virus is sexually transmitted however, while the association I mention above is strong, the rest of what is known is still evolving.  There is pretty strong evidence that that virus is transmitted through rectal intercourse.  Whether it is spread by kissing is not well established and if it is, it is unlikely to be easily transmitted.  

In answer to your specific questions:
1.  Currently virtually all testing for HHV 8 is done for research. Furthermore, the meaning of a positive test, particularly in a person without HIV is not well established.  I would not worry about testing and if you were testing, would not know what to tell you about its significance for your health.  

2.  Only the association between Kaposi's in men who have HIV.

3.  It is always a good idea to eat healthily but the benefits of such a diet for persons with HHV 8 (which I doubt that you have) is unknown.

4.  As a person who does not have HIV, it is unlikely that you have HHV 8 and if you do, there is no reason to be concerned that it puts you at high risk for cancer.

Thanks for the question. HHV 8  and its potential impact on health is still unknown.  It is unlikely that you have it and is certainly not something for you to worry about at this time.  

I'll ask around and verify the statements I've made above and update this post as is appropriate.  EWH
Avatar universal
Thanks, Dr. Hook, for your honesty and for attempting to verify this. It is highly appreciated!
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