HIV ups risk of anal cancer

The highest rates of anal cancer were found in HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM), but rates of anal cancer among HIV-positive men and women in general were also higher than rates in the general population.

The finding “supports a general screening approach among HIV-positive individuals rather than a targeted approach to men who have sex with men,” said Dr Michael J Silverberg from Kaiser Permanente Northern California (United States) in a Reuters Health report.

The study

Silverberg and colleagues analysed data from 13 cohort studies in order to determine the incidence of anal cancer among 34189 HIV-positive patients and 114260 HIV-negative people.

Researchers found the anal cancer risk was 80.3-fold higher for HIV-infected MSM and 26.7-fold higher for other HIV-infected men. The anal cancer incidence rates per 100,000 person-years were 131 for HIV-infected MSM, 46 in other HIV-infected men, 30 in HIV-infected women, and two in the control group.

Doctors speculate that the high prevalence of anal cancer among these populations may be linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) ‘€“ the virus also responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. They further suggest that these groups may benefit from the HPV vaccine, regardless of whether the person has had previous HPV infection.  

Sources: Reuters Health, EurekAlert!


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