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September 15, 2015

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Lymphoma involves the uncontrolled growth of lymph cells that may spread to other organs, including bone marrow, the brain or spinal cord (central nervous system, or CNS lymphoma), and the gastrointestinal tract (GI lymphoma). The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may play a role in the development of lymphomas.

The two major types are:

  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL)
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma (also called Hodgkin's disease)

Lymphomas can be more advanced and harder to treat in people living with HIV, especially CNS lymphoma.


  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever, chills, sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Belly pain or swelling; nausea; gassy or bloated stomach (GI lymphoma)
  • Headache; changes in vision, alertness, or personality; confusion; problems with balance (CNS lymphoma)


  • Biopsy of affected part of the body (e.g., lymph node, lung, intestine, etc.)


  • Depending on the size, type, and location of the lymphoma, cancer specialists will recommend some combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is strongly linked to the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. Different strains of HPV cause warts or abnormal cell growth (dysplasia) near the anus or cervix (entrance to the womb).

Dysplasia is more common in women with advanced HIV disease and low CD4 cell counts. It is often more severe and difficult to treat than in HIV-negative women. Untreated dysplasia can lead to cervical cancer, which can be life threatening. HPV may also cause cancer in the vagina, vulva, and anus.

The good news is, when dysplasia is found and treated early, cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical screening tests are used to look for changes in the cervix, including dysplasia and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer usually takes years to develop, and it does not usually have symptoms until it is quite advanced. This is why getting screened for cervical cancer on a regular basis is important; screening can catch potential problems before they get worse. For more information on getting a gynecologic exam, see our article on Caring for a Woman's Body.


The other good news is that there are three widely used HPV vaccines: Gardasil (made by Merck; also known as Silgard), Gardasil-9 (also made by Merck), and Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline). These vaccines protect against the types of HPV that cause the most cervical cancers and genital warts. Pregnant women should not receive the vaccine, although it is safe to get the vaccine while breastfeeding.

All three vaccines have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Gardasil-9 is still awaiting approval in the UK and Canada. In the US, Gardasil is approved for females and males ages 9 to 26, while Cervarix is approved for females ages 10 to 25. The same is true in Canada.

It is best if young people get all doses of the vaccine before their first sexual contact. This helps them develop an immune response before they are exposed to HPV. People who are infected with some types of HPV may still benefit from the vaccine's effects against other types of HPV. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccines for all girls and young women ages 11 through 26 and all boys and young men ages 11 through 21 (even if they have already become sexually active).

In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends Gardasil vaccination for females and males ages nine through 26, or vaccination with Cervarix for girls and young women ages nine through 26. In the UK, vaccination with Gardasil is offered to girls ages 12 and 13 through the National Health Service.


  • Many women do not experience symptoms
  • Bleeding between periods and bleeding after sexual intercourse are two signs of advanced cervical dysplasia


Screening for dysplasia and cervical cancer is essential to find and treat early pre-cancerous changes and to prevent cervical cancer. Traditionally, the Papanicolaou test (Pap test or Pap smear) has been done. This test uses a small brush to collect a few cells to check for changes in the cervix. Now, liquid based systems to screen samples of cervical cells are much more common and are effective for finding abnormal cells.

Treatment for Cervical Cancer

Treatment depends on the type of cervical cancer and how far it has spread. Often, more than one kind of treatment is used.

  • LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure): Using a thin wire loop with an electrical current to cut away abnormal tissue
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing the cells with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser therapy: Using an intense light to destroy the cells
  • Cold-knife cone biopsy (conization): Cutting the cells out
  • In cases of mild dysplasia, your health care provider may just monitor the cervix by repeat Pap or HPV test
  • Surgery: Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, including the cervix)
  • Chemotherapy: Drugs (pills and/or intravenous medications) are used to shrink or kill the cancer
  • Radiation: High-energy rays (similar to X-rays) are used to kill the cancer cells
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Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS Malignancies
The Basics on Cancers & HIV

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.

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