A considerable proportion of the cancer burden among HIV-positive Americans derives from infections, particularly among people in their 20s and men who have sex with men (MSM). Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers examined HIV and cancer registries to determine the rates of new cases of cancer that are associated with infections.

Out of an estimated 6,200 new cancer cases, 2,500 (40 percent) were attributable to infections. The infections causing the most significant burden, with an estimated 2,200 new cancer cases, were Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which together mainly led to Kaposi sarcoma (KS), lymphomas, and anal and genital cancers. Infections were a particularly notable cause of cancers among those 20 to 29 years old. As a risk group, MSM had the highest proportion (48 percent) of cancers resulting from infections, mostly because of a high incidence of both KS and anal cancer.

The researchers concluded, “The very high fraction of cancer attributable to infection in HIV-infected people points to special opportunities to prevent these cancers, that is, avoidance, detection, and early treatment of cancer-associated infections, and universal early detection and uninterrupted treatment of HIV infection to avoid immunosuppression.”

To read the study abstract, click here.