People Living With HIV at Higher Risk of Cancers Caused by Smoking or Viruses, but Not All Cancers

May 16, 2014

This article was reported by NAM aidsmap.

NAM aidsmap reported on a study examining proportions of cancer in HIV-positive individuals caused by smoking, viral infections, and HIV-related immune suppression. Danish researchers compared the incidence of cancer between 3,503 HIV-positive individuals and 12,979 matched controls in the general population. The HIV-positive participants had an average baseline CD4 count of 450 cells/mm3 and 77 percent were taking antiretrovirals at the beginning of the study.

Results showed 157 cancer diagnoses among HIV-positive participants and 255 among controls. Incidence of cancer was twice as high in HIV-positive individuals compared to controls. Incidence of cancers related to viral infections was approximately 12 times higher in HIV-positive participants than in the HIV-negative controls, while incidence of smoking-related cancers was approximately three times higher among HIV-positive participants. Smoking-related and virus-associated cancers accounted for 23 percent and 43 percent of cancers in HIV-positive participants, whereas virus-associated cancers were rare in controls.

Findings indicate that HIV-positive individuals had an increased risk of cancer compared to the general public, but the increased risk was due to a higher incidence of smoking-related cancers and cancers associated with viral infections. Apart from the cancers related to smoking or viral infections, no cancers were found attributable to being HIV positive and having immune deficiency. The risk of other cancers did not differ between the two groups.

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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