HIV Raises Anal Cancer Risk in Women, Study Says

Findings indicate gay men aren't only ones who need screening

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MONDAY, April 16, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Women with HIV are at increased risk for anal cancer, a new study finds.

Researchers at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City looked at 715 HIV-infected women and found that 10.5 percent had some form of anal disease and about one-third of those women had precancerous disease.

"Anal cancer was widely associated with HIV-infected men who have sex with men. But now, this study reveals anal precancerous disease in a high proportion of women with HIV," Dr. Mark Einstein, director of clinical research in the division of gynecologic oncology and a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said in a Montefiore news release.

The increased risk of anal cancer in HIV-infected women is likely because HIV is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes nearly all anal cancers, the researchers said.

The study appears May 1 in the Journal of AIDS.

The researchers said their findings suggest that all HIV-infected women who have abnormal findings on tests of anal tissue samples should be referred for high resolution anoscopy, a visual examination of the inside of the anus.

In addition, all HIV-infected women and men should be considered for anal cancer screening, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about anal cancer.

SOURCE: Montefiore Medical Center, news release, April 12, 2012

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