Trends in the incidence of cancers among HIV-infected persons and the impact of antiretroviral therapy: a 20-year cohort study

AIDS. 2009 Jan 2;23(1):41-50. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328317cc2d.


Objective: To describe trends in incidence rates of AIDS-defining cancers (ADCs) and non-AIDS-defining cancers (NADCs) during the HIV epidemic and to evaluate predictors, including the impact of antiretroviral therapy, of cancer development.

Design: Retrospective analysis of a multicenter, prospective natural history study including 4498 HIV-infected US military beneficiaries with 33 486 person-years of follow-up.

Methods: Predictors evaluated included demographics, clinical data, time-updated CD4 cell counts, HIV viral loads, and antiretroviral history. Time periods were classified as early pre (1984-1990), late pre (1991-1995), early post (1996-2000), and late post (2001-2006) HAART eras. Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the association of specific factors with cancer.

Results: Ten percent of HIV-infected persons developed cancer. ADC rates increased between the early and late pre-HAART eras (7.6 and 14.2 cases per 1000 person-years) and have since declined from 5.4 to 2.7 in the early and late HAART eras, respectively (P < 0.001). Rates of NADCs have risen over the four periods (2.9, 2.8, 4.2, 6.7, P = 0.0004). During the late HAART era, 71% of cancers were NADCs. Predictors for ADCs included low CD4 cell count, noncancer AIDS diagnosis, and lack of HAART. NADCs were predicted by increasing age and white race (due to skin cancers).

Conclusion: Although the rate of ADCs continues to fall, the rate of NADCs is rising and now accounts for the majority of cancers in HIV-infected persons. The development of NADCs is associated with increasing age among HIV patients. HAART use is protective for ADCs, but did not significantly impact NADCs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Load
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-HIV Agents