Breast cancer in women living with HIV: A first global estimate

Int J Cancer. 2018 Dec 1;143(11):2732-2740. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31722. Epub 2018 Oct 3.


There is a growing population of older women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA). Breast cancer is a common cancer in women worldwide, but the global number of breast cancers in WLWHA is not known. We estimated, for each UN sub-region, the number and age distribution of WLWHA who were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, by combining IARC-GLOBOCAN estimates of age-country specific breast cancer incidence with corresponding UNAIDS HIV prevalence. Primary analyses assumed no HIV-breast cancer association, and a breast cancer risk reduction scenario was also considered. Among 16.0 million WLWHA aged 15+ years, an estimated 6,325 WLWHA were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, 74% of whom were in sub-Saharan Africa, equally distributed between Eastern, Southern and Western Africa. In most areas, 70% of HIV-positive breast cancers were diagnosed under age 50. Among all breast cancers (regardless of HIV status), HIV-positive women constituted less than 1% of the clinical burden, except in Eastern, Western and Middle Africa where they comprised 4-6% of under age 50 year old breast cancer patients, and in Southern Africa where this patient subgroup constituted 26 and 8% of breast cancers diagnosed under and over age 50 respectively. If a deficit of breast cancer occurs in WLWHA, the global estimate would reduce to 3,600. In conclusion, worldwide, the number of HIV-positive women diagnosed with breast cancer was already substantial in 2012 and with an expected increase within the next decade, early detection and treatment research targeted to this population are needed.

Keywords: Africa; HIV; breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / virology
  • Female
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult