Highly active antiretroviral therapy may not only suppress HIV and help prevent opportunistic infections such as pneumonia, the drugs may also protect patients from some infection-related cancers, say researchers. Gary Clifford, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues reviewed the records of more than 7,300 Swiss HIV-positive patients and found that those taking anti-HIV drugs had a lower risk of Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma than patients not taking HAART. However, compared with the general population, HIV-infected patients had a 20-fold risk of having KS and had a higher risk of anal cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, cervical cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the lip, mouth, and pharynx, and non-melanoma skin cancer, researchers reported.
"In persons infected with HIV, HAART use may prevent most excess risk of KS and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but not that of Hodgkin's lymphoma and other non-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-defining cancers. No cancers of the lip, mouth, pharynx, or lung were observed in nonsmokers."
The full study, titled "Cancer Risk in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study: Associations With Immunodeficiency, Smoking, and Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy," appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (Reuters)