HIV Could Be Impacting Already High Cancer Rates Among Blacks

by Roberto Alejandro
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found people with HIV develop cancer at higher rates than would be expected in the general population.

This finding has particular public health implications for African Americans, who already suffer the worst HIV infection rates of any group in the United States. Blacks accounted for 46 percent of HIV diagnoses between 2009 and 2013 despite being only 13 percent of the total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Census Bureau, respectively.

According to the National Cancer Institute study, “An estimated 7760 cancers occurred in 2010 among HIV-infected people, of which 3920 cancers were in excess of expected. The most common excess cancers were non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, anal cancer, and lung cancer.”

African Americans already suffer above average rates of cancer. Black men suffer the highest rate of new cancer cases among all American men, and Black men and women suffer the highest death rates due to cancer of all Americans, according to the CDC.

The excess cancer burden imposed by HIV on American is “substantial,” according to the new report, the authors of which suggest that “patterns across groups highlight opportunities for cancer control initiatives targeted to HIV-infected people.”

“About half of the excess cancers were cancers that are normally preventable when HIV is controlled by medications, so this highlights a need for continued improvements in access and adherence to HIV therapy,” said Hilary Robbins, one of the study’s authors, to Reuters Health.