Does HIV Cause Colorectal Cancer?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Is there a relationship between HIV and colorectal cancer?

Doctor's response

Yes. Human papilloma virus (HPV), the common cause of genital and anal warts, is associated with the development of anal cancer. Individuals who are co-infected with HIV and HPV are at an increased risk for developing the cancer. If a person with HIV is not already infected with HPV, the best defense is to practice safe sex so as to minimize the risk of becoming infected. If already infected with HPV, regular inspection for warts is recommended. Furthermore, studies are underway looking at the utility of anal PAP smears or biopsies to identify early changes that may predict the development of cancer. Similar to cervical cancer in women, anal cancer is preventable and can be effectively treated if caught early.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018