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HIV and Cancer: An Overview of AIDS-Defining and Non–AIDS-Defining Cancers in Patients With HIV

Gretchen A. McNally
CJON 2019, 23(3), 327-331 DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.327-331

People living with HIV are at an increased risk of cancer and often face worse outcomes because of treatment disparities, including increased mortality. When the immune system is severely compromised from HIV infection, AIDS can develop and result in an even greater risk for life-threatening disease or cancer. In addition, patients with HIV receiving cancer treatment require close monitoring for potential drug interactions and toxicities, particularly related to preventing opportunistic infections. Oncology nurses are ideal patient advocates to promote cancer prevention and screening strategies among this population. This article reviews associated risk factors for AIDS-defining and non–AIDS-defining cancers in patients with HIV.


  • Because patients with HIV and cancer are at an increased risk of developing life-threatening infections, additional supportive care measures are needed.
  • Although AIDS-defining cancers have decreased with effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), non–AIDS-defining cancers have increased significantly and account for more than half of all HIV malignancies.
  • Nurses should review potential drug–drug interactions among systemic cancer treatments and cART.

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