Background: Zimbabwe is severely affected by the AIDS epidemic, and many cancers in African populations are related to infectious agents.
Objective: To study the current pattern, and short-term changes in incidence, of cancers related to infectious agents (and especially to HIV), with respect to the evolving epidemic of AIDS.
Methods: Analysis of data on the African population of Harare, Zimbabwe, from the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry, for the period 1990-1995. Comparison with data on prevalence of HIV seropositivity, and notifications of AIDS.
Results: Comparing results from 1993-1995 with those for 1990-1992 shows a continuing increase in the incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma with a doubling of the rates in both men and women. A dramatic increase in the incidence of squamous cell tumours of the conjunctiva was also observed, as well as a significant increase in the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in women. There was no apparent increase in risk for Hodgkin's disease, myeloma, liver cancer, or cancer of the cervix.
Conclusions: The AIDS epidemic has had a dramatic effect on the profile of cancer. The changes in incidence involve several cancers previously linked to AIDS in North America and Europe.