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Most AIDS Cancers Dropped After HAART, But Not Cervical

Antiretrovirals reduced the incidence rate of two of three high-risk AIDS-related cancers

FRIDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) lowered the risks of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1996-2002, largely by boosting CD4 cell count, but cervical cancer rates did not show a similar decline in HIV-positive patients, according to a report published online June 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Robert J. Biggar, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues used data from the HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study and national registries to analyze predominantly male patients both before and after the introduction of HAART in 1996. The researchers compared the relationship of AIDS-associated cancers with CD4 blood counts at diagnosis.

The investigators found the incidence of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in AIDS patients to be about five times lower between 1996-2002 than in 1990-1995, with cancer risk declining as the count of CD4 cells improved after HAART therapy. However, cervical cancer rates slightly increased from 1996-2002 regardless of improvement in immune cell counts.

"The incidences of central nervous system non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma were the most strongly associated with severe CD4 depletion, whereas those of Burkitt lymphoma and cervical cancer were not associated with CD4 counts, at least in the ranges observed in persons with AIDS," the authors write. "These associations persisted in the HAART era, although the risk of Kaposi sarcoma and most non-Hodgkin lymphomas has declined substantially."

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