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HIV+ Veterans Have Higher Rates of Unusual Cancers

HIV+ Veterans Have Higher Rates of Unusual Cancers

CHICAGO—For many years, researchers have known that individuals who are
seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at much greater
risk of developing two forms of cancer—Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s

A large-scale study of veterans for the first time shows that
HIV-positive men also have a higher incidence of other unusual types of
malignancies, compared with HIV-negative veterans or the male population as
a whole, Adam J. Gordon, MD, reported at the Interscience Conference on
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC abstract 249).

The unusual malignancies with high rates in HIV-positive men involved the
oral cavity and pharynx, digestive and respiratory systems, skin, and
genitalia as well as cancers that are ill-defined, said Dr. Gordon,
assistant professor of medicine, VA Pittsburgh Health System Center for
Health Services Research.

The study authors did not compile enough evidence to determine why the
rates of these cancers were higher in HIV-positive veterans. Dr. Gordon said
it might be because men in the study have engaged in risky behaviors, such
as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking. The magnitude of the increased
risk also suggests that HIV infection or treatment may play a role.

Early Cancer Screening

"This type of information gives physicians an idea of what to look
for in terms of other diseases that may be affecting the HIV population so
they may institute some kinds of cancer screening early," he said.

The study included 868 HIV-positive men between the ages of 27 and 79 who
were treated at HIV clinics in the Cleveland, Manhattan, and Houston VA
hospitals between July 1999 and June 2000 as part of the Veterans HIV/AIDS
Cohort Study (VACS 3).


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