Among people living with AIDS in the United States, the frequency of AIDS-defining cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma decreased markedly between 1991 and 2005; the frequency of other types of cancer, however, increased three-fold. These results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Survival among people diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) improved significantly after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the mid-1990s. As people with AIDS live longer, their health needs are likely to change.

To explore cancer trends among people with HIV/AIDS, researchers evaluated data from three periods: 1991-1995 (pre-HAART), 1996-2000 (early-HAART), and 2001-2005 (late-HAART).

Information was collected about both AIDS-defining cancers (Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cervical cancer) and other types of cancer.

The researchers write “The growing burden of non-AIDS-defining cancers highlights the need for cancer prevention and early detection among HIV-infected people.” Strategies such as smoking cessation and prevention and treatment of hepatitis B and C viruses are important for this population.

Reference: Shiels MS, Pfeiffer RM, Gail MH et al. Cancer burden in the HIV-infected population in the United States. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Early online publication April 11, 2011.

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