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Is cancer the end for most HIV/AIDS patients?
Oct 21, 2001

I recently was informed by a nurse who has had many years of experience in the AIDS field that cancer is now the end for most HIV/AIDS patients. Can you tell me your findings ?

Response from Dr. Dezube

Although your nurse is not entirely wrong, her comments do not tell the whole picture. It is true that as AIDS patients are living longer, this increased time gives certain cancers such as anal cancer more time to develop. Many AIDS patients also die from liver disease, heart disease, and many other causes. HOWEVER, this is a bit too much doom and gloom. The truth is that, at least in developed nations, most AIDS patients do quite well on their HIV regimens. I don't see any end in sight to many of their lives. Many of them function both physically and mentally on level with HIV negative folks. We observe them closely for lipid problems, bone disease, hormone problems, and other problems associated with long term therapy. We screen them for anal cancer (using anal Pap smears) and in women for cervical cancer (using cervical Pap smears). So in short, just as with HIV negative folks, although cancer is certainly an all too common end, this does not mean that every HIV negative person will develop cancer. The same applies to HIV'ers.

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