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Non-AIDS Cancers Cause as Many Deaths as AIDS in HIV-Infected Patients — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 18, 2014

Non-AIDS Cancers Cause as Many Deaths as AIDS in HIV-Infected Patients

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Non-AIDS-related cancers are now responsible for as many deaths as AIDS among HIV-infected patients, according to a Lancet study.

Researchers followed nearly 50,000 HIV-infected patients receiving care at over 200 clinics in the U.S., Europe, and Australia from 1999 to 2011. Roughly 8% of the cohort died during the study.

The overall rate of death decreased from 17.5 per 1000 person-years in 1999-2000 to 9.1 per 1000 in 2009-2011. Rates of death related to AIDS, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease decreased over the study, while rates of death related to non-AIDS cancers increased slightly.

Overall, the percentage of deaths attributable to AIDS declined from 34% to 22% — likely owing to improvements in CD4 cell-counts with antiretroviral therapy — while the proportion attributable to non-AIDS cancers increased from 9% to 23%.

Paul Sax of NEJM Journal Watch HIV/AIDS Clinical Care said the findings "add to an accumulating body of evidence that HIV patients treated appropriately with antiretroviral therapy will die less commonly of AIDS-related causes, and more of diseases of aging."

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