Kisses with risk

Kisses with risk

Although the campaigns to prevent some sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, emphasize that the virus that causes them is not transmitted through saliva, a study published in the journal ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ has revealed the possibility of that herpes virus 8, which can cause a type of cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, is transmitted through kisses in the mouth between men.

Herpes virus 8 (HHV-8) was identified in 1994 and belongs to the family of human herpes viruses that cause certain diseases such as oral and genital herpes, chicken pox and infectious mononucleosis (“kissing disease”) . The spread of this virus is associated with the development of a type of tumor , Kaposi’s sarcoma.This tumor is usually detected by the appearance of spots or purple rashes on the skin or in the mouth . It can also be located in some internal cavities of the body such as the chest or abdomen. The disease usually appears in people with a weakened immune system , so it usually attacks AIDS patients, or patients who have received organ transplants that are depressed by the immune system to avoid the risk of possible rejection.The treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma with chemotherapy is usually effective, except in some cases where the tumor spreads to internal organs. Although there is evidence that HHV-8 is more common among promiscuous people, some mechanisms of transmission of the virus are still unknown. For example, HHV-8 is located in Africa in adults and children in equal measure, so contagion via non-sexual means is also possible .

“When we think of sexually transmitted diseases, we associate them with infections that are transmitted through genital contact. Nevertheless,It is very difficult to locate HHV-8 in genital fluids , “says Dr. John Pauk, of the University of Washington (United States), responsible for the study. “We have found the virus in the mouth more often and in greater quantities than in the genital secretions.”

In the 1980s, an epidemic of Kaposi’s sarcoma among homosexual men announced the arrival of an AIDS epidemic. In Seattle (United States), those responsible for the research found the virus in 40 percent of homosexuals infected with HIV (virus that causes AIDS) and in 20 percent of homosexuals without HIV. After analyzing 112 homosexuals, the team led by Dr. Pauk identified two risk factors for HHV-8 infection:episode of sex with a person with Kaposi’s sarcoma or having kissed (with saliva exchange) a person affected by HIV .

“Currently, the number of people carrying the HHV-8 virus who develop cancer is very small, ” explains Dr. Pauk. “But although safe sex messages focus on the exchange of genital secretions, we have to remember that kissing can also transmit some viruses . Homosexual people with HIV should not forget the risks associated with the exchange of saliva. ”