September 17, 2009
A new study finds that people with AIDS are at increased risk of developing cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and that this risk increases as the patients' level of immunosuppression rises.
The researchers accessed data on 499,230 persons diagnosed with AIDS between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 2004, and linked the data to cancer registries in 15 US regions. "We evaluated the relationship of immunosuppression with incidence during the period of 4-60 months after AIDS onset by use of CD4 T-cell counts measured at AIDS onset," the authors wrote.
The results showed that patients with AIDS were at a statistically higher risk for all HPV-related cancers. The researchers also noted that from 1996 to 2004, a low CD4 T-cell count was associated with an elevated risk of invasive anal cancer among men.
"Given that individuals currently infected with HIV may obtain little benefit from available HPV vaccines our results underscore the need for effective screening for cervical cancer and anal cancer among persons with HIV infection or AIDS," the researchers wrote. "Nonetheless, it must additionally be acknowledged that these associations between [HPV]-related cancers and markers of immunosuppression were of moderate strength, varied between cancer types, and await confirmation."
"The increasing incidence for anal cancer during 1996-2004 indicates that prolonged survival may be associated with increased risk of certain HPV-associated cancers," the authors concluded.
The study, "Risk of Human Papillomavirus-Associated Cancers Among Persons with AIDS," was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2009;101(16):1120-1130).