Cancer Gone Viral: This cancer-causing virus hacked the AIDS epidemic

Cancer Gone Viral: This cancer-causing virus hacked the AIDS epidemic

Dr. Talia Henkle
Dr. Talia Henkle

In 10 seconds? Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (AKA KSHV or HHV-8) is a virus that usually doesn’t cause illness in healthy people. But it becomes one of the most potent cancer-causing viruses in those who are immunocompromised due to HIV infection.

What’s the story? Herpesviruses, as a family of viruses, are like those weird people that nobody wants to get stuck talking to at a party. Once you're introduced to them, they are pretty much impossible to get rid of, and the best-case scenario is they become a vague or imperceptible annoyance in the background. In this allegory – and as the main character in the current episode of our Cancer Gone Viral series, we meet KSHV, who is like an uncomfortably quiet cousin that grows up to be a serial killer.

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