Reducing the Risks of Specific Cancers
Although ART cannot eliminate a person's risk for developing the cancers mentioned in this report, maintaining a CD4+ cell count of at least 500 cells/mm3 generally reduces the risk for cancer. If after several years your CD4+ count does not rise above this level, speak to your doctor about possible causes. To help preserve your immune system, it is important to begin ART shortly after a diagnosis of HIV.
Anal cancer is caused by infection with strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). There are two vaccines that help protect against HPV -- Cervarix and Gardasil. The latter also provides protection against genital warts. Speak to your doctor about the possibility of getting vaccinated against HPV and also for a referral to an anal cancer screening program in your region. Using condoms when you have sex can also help reduce your risk of being exposed to HPV (and other germs).
Infection with HBV and/or HCV can cause liver cancer. Speak to your doctor about getting screened for these infections. Treatment for HBV is available and if you are not infected, so is a vaccine. Treatment for HCV is available and becoming safer, shorter and easier to tolerate. Correct and consistent use of condoms can help to reduce the risk of getting HCV during anal intercourse. There is no vaccine for HCV.
Smoking tobacco increases the risk for not only lung cancer but also other cancers. If you smoke, speak to your doctor, nurse and pharmacist about getting support for quitting smoking.
Hodgkin's lymphoma appears to be caused by infection with a common member of the herpes virus family, called Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). At this time there is no proven way to lower the risk for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In observational studies, some of the interventions listed below have in some cases, been associated with a reduced risk for cancer and/or can help people lead healthier lives:
- Maintain a healthy weight -- If you are over- or under-weight, speak to your doctor.
- Exercise several times each week -- Talk to your doctor about what kind and intensity of exercise is right for you.
- Reduce the negative effects of stress -- For some people, exercise can help; for others, additional practices, such as yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and mindfulness exercises, may be useful. Counselling can also help people cope with and find ways to deal with stress. Speak to your doctor about your mental health needs.
- Eat a diet rich in fibre, colourful fruit and vegetables.
- Cut down on your exposure to alcohol and other substances and seek addiction support if needed -- If you are addicted to alcohol or other substances, ask your doctor and nurse for help dealing with it. Addiction can degrade a person's health.
- Avoid sharing equipment for substance use -- Substance use exposes people to unhealthy chemicals and by sharing equipment, increases the risk of exposure to viruses that can cause serious illness and cancer.
A Practical Guide to Nutrition -- CATIE's guide to healthy eating, vitamins and supplements, and managing symptoms and side effects through nutrition
HIV and emotional wellness -- CATIE's guide to how people with HIV can cultivate their emotional well-being
Mindfulness-based therapy found helpful for stress and the immune system -- CATIE News
CATIE's Hepatitis C information
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