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Interferon B
Aug 16, 2000

I am writing in concerning the increase in incidence of anal cancer in gay men with HIV. Although not clearly understood, many people use interferon in their mix of medications to manage their virus. Do you see any potential benefit for changing to interferon B to manage the HPV virus that is so prevalent in gay men? Could this possibly be a means of management and prevention of outbreaks?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

All kinds of interferon -- alpha, beta and gamma -- have been used successfully to treat genital warts (caused by HPV)in some individuals. Interferon is expensive, has lots of potential side effects, and doesn't always work or works only for a brief period, so preventive use is probably not the way to go. Many experts feel that regular anal Pap smears, just like the ones that are done to detect cervical cancer in women which is also associated with HPV, is the most effective way to screen for early cellular changes that might evolve into cancer. That way there is time to remove the altered tissue before it becomes an invasive cancer.

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