February 7, 2001
Many clinicians have observed the decreasing rate of opportunistic infections and cancers that have occurred in HIV-infected patients treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). This study confirms the many anecdotal reports and studies that have been presented over the past four years, including several studies presented at this conference documenting the significant decline in mortality and morbidity of HIV-infected patients treated with HAART.
This study evaluated the effect of HAART on the survival of 387 HIV-positive men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) who had been diagnosed as having either Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS) (287 cases) or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL) (100 cases). It found that HAART led to an 81% reduction in the risk of death from KS and an 83% reduction in the risk of death from NHL. This reduction in risk occurred whether HAART was started before or after the KS or NHL diagnosis was made.
This is encouraging data and shows that HAART therapy can even help to control opportunistic cancers such as KS and NHL. It is still unclear, however, why this is so. There are several theories including:
The implication of this study, and other studies like it, is that HAART can control many cancers associated with HIV. Therefore, neither patients nor physicians should lose hope so long as HAART-induced immune recovery or some other mechanism associated with HAART is a possibility for controlling these tumors.
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