Objective: Following the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) the risk of AIDS-defining cancers decreased but incidence of many non-AIDS-defining cancers has reportedly increased in those with HIV/AIDS. Whether melanoma risk has also changed in HIV/AIDS patients post-HAART is unknown and therefore we evaluated this in comparison with the risk before HAART.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods: We searched Medline, Embase and ISI science citation index databases to April 2013. All cohort studies of patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS that permitted quantitative assessment of the association with melanoma were eligible. Detailed quality assessment of eligible studies was conducted, focussing particularly on adjustment for ethnicity, a priori considered essential for an unbiased assessment of melanoma risk. Data were pooled using a random effects model.
Results: From 288 articles, we identified 21 that met the inclusion criteria, 13 presenting data for the post-HAART era and 8 for the pre-HAART era. Post-HAART the pooled relative risk (pRR) for the association between HIV/AIDS and melanoma was 1.26 (95% CI, 0.97-1.64) and 1.50 (95% CI 1.12-2.01) among studies that accounted for ethnicity, with evidence of significant heterogeneity (P = 0.004, I2 = 55.5). Pre-HAART pRRs were 1.26 (95% CI 1.11-1.43; P het = 0.82) and 1.28 (95% CI 1.10-1.49) among studies adjusted for ethnicity.
Conclusions: People with HIV/AIDS remain at a significantly increased risk of developing melanoma in the post-HAART era. White skinned people with HIV/AIDS should be screened regularly and counselled against excessive sun exposure.