Research Highlight

Cancer among HIV people

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.112 Published online 28 April 2009

Cancer as a clinical problem among HIV-infected people in India needs to be taken more seriously now as better management of other opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis increases the life span of such patients, a new review says1.

Little is known about cancer risk in people with HIV but risk is thought to be low. Researchers reviewed reports from international and national literature to find that non-Hodgkin lymphomas dominate the profile of recognised cancers in India. As survival with AIDS is truncated by fatal infections, Hodgkin lymphoma is proportionally increased.

In contrast, Kaposi sarcoma is rare, in association with an apparently low prevalence of Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Cervical, anal, vulva/vaginal and penile cancers also seem to be going up among people with HIV. "The association may be confounded by sexual behaviors that transmit both HIV and human papillomavirus," the researchers say.

Head and neck tumor incidence may also be increased — an important concern since these tumors are among the most common in India.

The review suggests that AIDS-cancer record linkage between available registries in overlapping areas will be of great help in monitoring the changing relationship between AIDS and cancer incidence during a time when treatments become increasingly used.

The authors of this work are from: Dept. of Research, LV Prasad Eye Hospital, Hyderabad, India; Dept. of Epidemiology Research, State Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark; Infection and Immunoepidemiology Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA and AIDS Malignancy Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


  1. Biggar, R. J. et al. Cancer risk in persons with HIV/AIDS in India: a review and future directions for research. Infect. Agent. Cancer. doi: 10.1186/1750-9378-4-4 (2009)