Colorectal cancer screening in HIV-infected patients 50 years of age and older: missed opportunities for prevention

Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Aug;100(8):1805-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.50038.x.


Objectives: Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients are now living longer, there are no published data on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in this population. We hypothesized that HIV-infected patients were less likely to be screened for CRC compared to patients without HIV.

Methods: Consecutive HIV-infected patients > or =50 yr old seen in our outpatient clinic from 1/1/01 to 6/30/02 were identified. For each HIV-infected patient, we selected one age- and gender-matched control subject without HIV infection who was seen during the same time period. The electronic medical records were reviewed to determine the proportion of patients that had a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, air-contrast barium enema (ACBE), or colonoscopy.

Results: During the 18-month study period, 538 HIV-infected outpatients were seen and 302 (56.1%) were > or =50 yr old. Despite significantly more visits with their primary care provider, HIV-infected patients were less likely to have ever had at least one CRC screening test (55.6%vs 77.8%, p < 0.001). The proportion of HIV-infected patients who ever had a FOBT (43.0%vs 66.6%, p < 0.001), flexible sigmoidoscopy (5.3%vs 17.5%, p < 0.001), ACBE (2.6%vs 7.9%, p= 0.004), or colonoscopy (17.2%vs 27.5%, p= 0.002) was significantly lower than in control subjects. In addition, HIV-infected patients were significantly less likely to be up-to-date with at least one CRC screening test according to current guidelines (49.3%vs 65.6%, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: A substantial number of HIV-infected patients are > or =50 yr of age and CRC screening is underutilized in this population. Public health strategies to improve CRC screening in HIV-infected patients are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occult Blood
  • Sigmoidoscopy