Emerging data shows that men with HIV may be more likely to develop cancer than patients without. Why is that the case? Learn more about this study and how we can reduce the rate of cancer in this patient population.
A Look at HIV & Its Link to Cancer
HIV Patients More Likely to Develop Cancer, Study Shows
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a group of viruses that can cause different types of cancer and is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all sexually active people will get HIV at some point in their lives. But do these viruses affect different genders disproportionately?
According to a new study published in the journal Cancer, men living with HIV are more likely to develop cancer than those without the virus. This study from Case Western Reserve University used data from the 2012 Medicaid Analytic eXtract to flag the presence of both HIV and symptomatic HIV, 13 types of cancer, and viral coinfections. The results showed that male patients living with HIV had higher rates of cancer prevalence than those without HIV.
The study's lead author, Dr. J. Lennox Chapman, commented on the findings, saying that "these results are important because they suggest that men living with HIV are at increased risk for cancer and that efforts to promote healthy behaviors and vaccination against human papillomavirus among this population are warranted."
This study examined 82,000 men living with HIV and over 7 million men without HIV. The highest rates of cancer were for anal cancer in both symptomatic and asymptomatic men living with HIV. And the highest rates of cancer in men living with HIV were detected in Hispanics. The researchers pointed out that there was excess prevalence of anal, lymphoma, and rectal cancers. This is thought to be due in part from premature aging from HIV and other non-HIV risk factors such as smoking.
This finding underscores the importance of promoting healthy behaviors and vaccination against human papillomavirus among people living with HIV. But many patients don't even know they have it. That's because in most cases, the body is able to clear the virus on its own. However, in some cases, the virus can stay in the body and cause changes at a molecular level that can lead to cancer. People with HIV are more likely than those without HIV to develop cancer because HIV weakens the immune system. This makes it harder for the body to fight off infections, including HPV.
This research highlights the need for a greater focus in the medical community on cancer prevention and early detection among people living with HIV. With the right interventions in place, healthcare providers can reduce the rates of cancer among this population.
Dr. Siran Koroukian, a professor in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's Population Cancer Analytics Shared Resource said, “Medicaid plays a key role in insuring people with HIV. Our findings highlight the importance of the Medicaid program's efforts to promote healthy behaviors and to promote vaccine against human papillomavirus in children and adolescents, as well as individualized cancer screening."
Case Western University. “Researchers Demonstrate High Prevalence of Cancer among Men Living with HIV.” Medical Xpress - medical research advances and health news. Medical Xpress, March 17, 2022. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-03-high-prevalence-cancer-men-hiv.html.
Koroukian, Siran M., Guangjin Zhou, Suparna M. Navale, Nicholas K. Schiltz, Uriel Kim, Johnie Rose, Gregory S. Cooper, et al. “Excess Cancer Prevalence in Men with HIV: A Nationwide Analysis of Medicaid Data.” Cancer, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.34166.
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