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Br J Cancer. 2009 Mar 10;100(5):840-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604923. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

Pattern of cancer risk in persons with AIDS in Italy in the HAART era.

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Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico IRCCS, Aviano, Italy.


A record-linkage study was carried out between the Italian AIDS Registry and 24 Italian cancer registries to compare cancer excess among persons with HIV/AIDS (PWHA) before and after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1996. Standardised incidence ratios (SIR) were computed in 21951 AIDS cases aged 16-69 years reported between 1986 and 2005. Of 101 669 person-years available, 45 026 were after 1996. SIR for Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma greatly decreased in 1997-2004 compared with 1986-1996, but high SIRs for KS persisted in the increasingly large fraction of PWHA who had an interval of <1 year between first HIV-positive test and AIDS diagnosis. A significant excess of liver cancer (SIR=6.4) emerged in 1997-2004, whereas the SIRs for cancer of the cervix (41.5), anus (44.0), lung (4.1), brain (3.2), skin (non-melanoma, 1.8), Hodgkin lymphoma (20.7), myeloma (3.9), and non-AIDS-defining cancers (2.2) were similarly elevated in the two periods. The excess of some potentially preventable cancers in PWHA suggests that HAART use must be accompanied by cancer-prevention strategies, notably antismoking and cervical cancer screening programmes. Improvements in the timely identification of HIV-positive individuals are also a priority in Italy to avoid the adverse consequences of delayed HAART use.

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