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Studying HIV and cancer link
  By Renee Dudley
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina are studying the links between HIV and certain cancers in an effort to prevent and treat AIDS patients with cancer more effectively.
The group recently received grants worth $1.4 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the study, which is expected to take about five years, said Dr. Chris Parsons, an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Disease who is leading the research.
Previous research has shown that AIDS patients have a higher rate of developing cancers caused by viruses, including cervical cancer (caused by the human papillomavirus), liver cancer (caused by hepatitis C) and lymphoma (caused by Epstein-Barr virus), than people uninfected by HIV.
The MUSC researchers have tested about 50 patients for the secondary, cancer-causing viruses since the spring, Parsons said.
About half of them have tested positive for at least one of those viruses, he said. The group expects to eventually test about 500 patients who are HIV-positive.
The group will look for genetic markers that would identify patients who have the highest risk of developing cancer from those viruses, Parsons said.
"Now they might improve their HIV status and die of cancer anyway," he said. "If we can determine their risk, we can help them prevent the cancer."
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