Did HIV Cause my Leukemia?

Question

One year ago I was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML). Days later I was diagnosed as HIV+.

My HIV/Infectious Disease Physician tells me that while there is evidence that HIV is linked to Lymphomas -- there is "no evidence whatsoever" that it(HIV) is linked to Leukemia. My Oncologist says he doesn't know, and my Family Practice physician says "without a doubt, they are linked".

Want to give one more opinion?

Answer

I published earlier this year an article describing the relationship between leukemia (in particular your type of leukemia AML) and HIV infection. The article appears in the British journal AIDS and is under my name, so your physicians should be able to reference it.

Why does this connection exist? HIV infection causes an imbalance in growth factors. Some of these growth factors and hormones cause bone marrow cells to grow. On occasion (in fact it's only on a very rare occasion) some of these bone marrow cells grow and become leukemic. We showed in that article, that if your HIV infection can be brought under control and if you are otherwise healthy, that you chances in terms of beating the AML are similar to the chances of an HIV-negative person.

Good luck in both your battles (leukemia and HIV). Please write back if you have more questions.