Therapy insight: AIDS-related malignancies--the influence of antiviral therapy on pathogenesis and management

Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2005 Aug;2(8):406-15; quiz 423. doi: 10.1038/ncponc0253.


Patients with HIV infection are at an increased risk of a number of malignancies, including Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and certain B-cell lymphomas. Most of these tumors are caused by oncogenic DNA viruses, including KS-associated herpesvirus and Epstein-Barr virus. HIV contributes to the development of these tumors through several mechanisms, including immunodeficiency, immunodysregulation, and the effects of HIV proteins such as Tat. The development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has reduced the incidence of many HIV-associated tumors and has generally improved their responsiveness to therapy. However, the number of people living with AIDS is increasing, and it is possible that the number of AIDS-associated malignancies will rise and the pattern of tumors will change as more people live longer with HIV infection. The goal of KS therapy is long-term tumor control with minimal toxicity. HAART is an important component of this therapy, and some patients do not require other KS-specific therapies. By contrast, the goal of AIDS-related lymphoma therapy in most cases is the attainment of a complete response with curative intent, and the benefits of administering HAART during therapy must be weighed against possible disadvantages. The past decade has seen substantial improvements in the treatment of AIDS-related lymphoma, which is attributed partially to a shift in tumor type and more effective regimens. There is currently an interest in developing new therapies for HIV-associated malignancies, based on viral, vascular or other pathogenesis-based targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active*
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / drug therapy
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / physiopathology
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / virology


  • Antineoplastic Agents