research published Thursday in JAMA Oncology.Older people with HIV and either breast or prostate cancer have higher death rates than HIV-negative people with the same cancers, according to
"Previous studies have shown that HIV-infected cancer patients are more likely to die from their cancer than HIV-uninfected cancer patients. However, those studies have not been able to take into account detailed information on the treatments patients may have received, including the exact type or timing of treatment," Anna E. Coghill, a researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Center and study author, said in a news release.
The researchers analyzed data on 288 HIV-positive patients and more than 307,000 HIV-negative patients, all of whom were older than age 65 and diagnosed with either colorectal, breast or lung cancer. Each person received treatment consistent with the stage of their cancer diagnosis.
Following their first cancer therapy, the HIV-positive women with breast cancer had twice the risk of relapse or death, and cancer-specific death was more common among patients with HIV than those without it.
But there is hope for older people who are HIV-positive and have cancer: A study reported 93 percent of cancer patients with HIV had their viral loads suppressed by checkpoint inhibitors.
This is important because while the inhibitors have shown efficacy in fighting cancer, they also compromise the immune system. This could possibly reactivate viral loads in patients with HIV.
"As the HIV population continues to age, the association of HIV infection with poor breast and prostate cancer outcomes will become more important, especially because prostate cancer is projected to become the most common malignancy in the HIV population by 2020," Coghill said. "It is why we are stressing the need for more research on clinical strategies to improve outcomes for HIV-infected cancer patients."