How are HIV and AIDS related to cancer? | Fight AIDS Foundation

How are HIV and AIDS related to cancer?


People with HIV are more likely to develop certain cancers than people without the infection. In fact, some cancers (such as Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or invasive cervical cancer) are considered AIDS-indicative diseases because its presence in a person with HIV is a clear signal that AIDS has been developed.

Other cancers are more common among people with HIV or AIDS than among uninfected individuals, although it is not always known with certainty why. In some cases, cancer may develop and grow faster due to weakness of the immune system caused by HIV. Other cancers have been associated with HIV co-infection with other viruses. For example, anal cancer and some cases of mouth and throat cancer are associated with infection with HPV (human papilloma virus) or liver cancer to hepatitis B or C. Moreover the greatest risk of developing certain cancers may be due to other risk factors that people with HIV are more likely to have. For example, mouth, throat and lung cancers are strongly associated with smoking, which is very common among this population.

In industrialized countries like ours, the picture on cancer and HIV has been changing as HIV treatment has improved. AIDS indicator conditions have become less common as more people have received effective treatment against HIV and, as life expectancy has been increasing other cancers that are not clearly associated with HIV, but which are more common in elderly people have been observed, such as colorectal or prostate cancers.

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