Cancer researchers have found that since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy HIV-positive men’s chances of having human papillomavirus (HPV) related anal cancers have increased. Yet many are not only unaware of their heightened risk but also do not know to seek HPV screening.
The lack of attention paid to HPV infections among HIVers has led to an incidence rate of anal cancer among HIV-positive men that now exceeds the highest incidence of cervical cancer among women reported anywhere in the world, recent studies have found.
"The incidence of human papillomavirus-associated anal cancer is unacceptably high among HIV-positive men who have sex with men, and possibly in HIV-positive women. Unlike most other malignancies occurring in the HIV-positive population, anal cancer is potentially preventable, using methods similar to those used to prevent cervical cancer in women," wrote Dr. Joel M. Palefsky, the co-leader of the cancer and immunity program at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, in an article this year in the medical journal Current Opinion in Oncology. "The high incidence of anal cancer among HIV-positive individuals must not be ignored, since it may be preventable."