Women Living with HIV Face Higher Rates of Cancer Diagnosis: Study

Vancouver, BC [September 15, 2015] Due to the introduction of modern highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), people living with HIV are now much less likely to develop AIDS-related cancers, which were characteristic of the epidemic in the 1980s. However, a new study published in HIV Medicine shows women living with HIV still have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with certain cancers, when compared with the general population.

While rates of AIDS-defining malignancies may be decreasing over time, there has been an observed increase in non-AIDS defining malignancies among women living with HIV compared to the general population. This trend primarily involves cancers with underlying infectious causes such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis.

“This research suggests chronic inflammation, immune-suppression, aging and viral infections may be contributing to the cancer risk,” said Dr. Robert Hogg, Senior Research Scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Professor at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Hogg is the thesis supervisor for Kate Salters, the study’s main author. “The study highlights the importance of ongoing access to HIV care and cancer screening practices that are specific to the risks facing women living with HIV. With sustained treatment, women with HIV are now able to live longer, healthier lives – making it increasingly important to address emerging health needs.”

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