Tag Archives: Cancer

HIV+ and worried about cancer? – You should be, read this and find out why.


Breakthroughs in medicine made it so a HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence; staying well with the illness is way less complicated than it used to be. That is, unless you are HIV-positive and get cancer.

Article via NewsWeek

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society and published earlier this week says HIV patients in the U.S. are much less likely than the general population to receive treatments for cancer, whether it has affected the gastrointestinal system, lungs, cervix, prostate, breast or blood.

Patients with HIV have a significantly higher risk for certain cancers, known clinically as AIDS-defining cancers. These include Kaposi sarcoma (a soft tissue cancer that causes lesions in the lymph nodes and mucous membranes), cervical cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The diagnosis of any of these cancers for someone who has HIV is considered a clinical sign that the infection has progressed to AIDS.  (Don’t know the difference between HIV & AIDS? – Click here to read more).

According to the National Cancer Institute, people with HIV are several thousand times more likely than people without the disease to develop Kaposi sarcoma. They are 70 times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. HIV-positive women are five times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. In addition, HIV increases the risk for most common cancers, including those in the breast, prostate and lungs and colorectal cancer.

HIV is also often associated with other viruses that can cause or are related to certain cancers. For example, patients diagnosed with HIV may test positive for the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer and some other types of cancers of both the male and female reproductive systems. HPV is also the cause of some head and neck cancers. Other viruses often diagnosed in people with HIV are Epstein-Barr and hepatitis B or C, all of which are linked to certain cancers.

To better understand how cancer specifically affects the HIV-positive community, researchers looked at data from the National Cancer Data Base on non-elderly adults diagnosed with several common cancers from 2003 to 2011, comparing 10,265 patients with an HIV diagnosis and 2,219,232 without. The researchers looked at rates of common types of cancer treatments across both populations, including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation or any combination. The result were published in the medical journal Cancer.

After adjusting for factors such as whether patients had health insurance, the researchers found that across the board, HIV-positive cancer patients were still significantly less likely to receive standard oncology treatments. For example, 32 percent of HIV-positive patients with lung cancer weren’t receiving treatment, versus 13.6 percent of lung cancer patients without HIV. HIV-positive patients with cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract were more than twice as likely to go without treatment than those who didn’t have HIV. These disparities still existed for HIV patients who were privately insured, but those on Medicare or Medicaid, or uninsured, were even less likely to get cancer treatments.

However, the authors say the study shows health insurance isn’t the only cause behind the cancer treatment disparities. One finding indicates race and ethnicity could contribute to limited medical care: HIV patients who were black tended to fare worse. The authors also suggest the disparities could be driven by the lack of research on the relationship between cancer and HIV—for example, whether certain chemotherapies and cancer drugs are safe to use on HIV-positive patients.

“HIV-infected patients with cancer have historically been excluded from cancer clinical trials, thereby limiting the applicability of clinical trial results for this population,” the researchers write in the conclusion of their study. Oncologists often feel less confident when treating these patients, which results in poor survival outcomes.

Rates of cancer mortality among patients with HIV/AIDS have decreased significantly since the introduction of antiretroviral drugs. These drugs lower the amount of virus circulating in the blood, which boosts immune system function, preventing the HIV virus from progressing to AIDS. The introduction of these antiretrovirals in the marketplace in the 1990s also significantly reduced the rates for Kaposi sarcomas and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

But antiretroviral drugs don’t fully restore immune system function, and their efficacy slowly diminishes over time, leaving HIV patients susceptible to cancers later in life. Additionally, many of these drugs are still relatively new, and no one knows for sure what the long-term impact may be for patients who take them for the full duration of their life. Regardless of these factors, the older a person is, the higher his or her risk for cancer.

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Worried about Cancer / Kaposi’s Sarcoma?


The Macmillan mobile bus is in Leicester (Humberstone Gate) today.  It’s an information centre which visit communities, high streets and events to bring free support as well as confidential information to everyone.

Whether you’ve been affected by cancer, are visiting on behalf of a friend or relative or would just like to find out more about what Macmillan do, you’re welcome to visit them and you don’t need an appointment.

They are parked up in Humberstone Gate, Leicester until 5pm today, why not pop down and have a chat?  For more information on the mobile bus visit Macmillan here.

a HIV blog talking about Cancer – Why?

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a rare type of cancer caused by a virus. It can affect the skin and internal organs.

It’s mainly seen in people with a poorly controlled or severe HIVinfection. It can also affect some people who have a weakened immune system for another reason, as well as people who have a genetic vulnerability to the virus.

The following information is via
NHS Choices

Signs and symptoms

The most common initial symptom is the appearance of small, painless, flat and discoloured patches on the skin or inside the mouth. They’re usually red or purple and look similar to bruises.

Over time, the patches may grow into lumps known as nodules and may merge into each other.

Internal organs can also be affected, including the lymph nodes, lungs and the digestive system, which can cause symptoms such as:

The rate at which symptoms progress depends on the type of Kaposi’s sarcoma you have. Most types get worse quickly in a matter of weeks or months without treatment, but some progress very slowly over many years.

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you have any worrying symptoms you think could be caused by Kaposi’s sarcoma. If you have HIV, you can also contact your local HIV clinic if you have any concerns.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your skin to look for the characteristic discoloured patches. If they suspect Kaposi’s sarcoma, they will refer you for further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

These tests may include:

  • an HIV test – a blood test to confirm whether or not you have HIV (if you haven’t already been diagnosed with the condition)
  • a skin biopsy – where a small sample of cells is removed from an affected area of skin and checked for Kaposi’s sarcoma cells
  • an endoscopy – where a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is passed down your throat to see if your lungs or digestive system are affected
  • computerised tomography (CT) scan to see if your lymph nodes or other parts of your body are affected

What causes Kaposi’s sarcoma?

Kaposi’s sarcoma is caused by a virus called the human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), also known as the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). This virus is thought to be spread during sex, through saliva, or from a mother to her baby during birth.

HHV-8 is a relatively common virus and the vast majority of people who have it will not develop Kaposi’s sarcoma. It only seems to cause cancer in some people with a weakened immune system and in some people who have a genetic vulnerability to the virus.

A weakened immune system allows the HHV-8 virus to multiply to high levels in the blood, which increases the chance it will cause Kaposi’s sarcoma.

The virus appears to alter the genetic instructions that control cell growth. This means some cells reproduce uncontrollably and form lumps of tissue known as tumours.

Types of Kaposi’s sarcoma and their treatment

There are four main types of Kaposi’s sarcoma. These types affect different groups of people and are treated in different ways.

HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma

Although it’s not as common as it used to be, Kaposi’s sarcoma is still one of the main types of cancer to affect people with HIV.

HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma can progress very quickly if not treated. However, it can usually be controlled by taking HIV medication – known as combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) – to prevent HIV multiplying and allow the immune system to recover. The immune system can then reduce the levels of HHV-8 in the body.

Read more about treating HIV.

Some people may also require treatment with radiotherapy (where high-energy rays are used to destroy cancer cells) or chemotherapy(where powerful medications are used to destroy cancer cells), depending on the site and extent of the cancer and what symptoms it’s causing.

Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma

Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma mainly affects middle-aged and elderly men of Mediterranean or Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Jewish communities that lived in central and eastern Europe. Most Jewish people in the UK are Ashkenazi Jews.

It’s thought people who develop classic Kaposi’s sarcoma were born with a genetic vulnerability to the HHV-8 virus.

Unlike the other types of Kaposi’s sarcoma, the symptoms of classic Kaposi’s sarcoma progress very slowly over many years and are usually limited to the skin.

Immediate treatment isn’t usually required because, in many cases, the condition doesn’t affect life expectancy. You’ll usually be monitored carefully and only treated if the symptoms get significantly worse.

Radiotherapy is often used if treatment is required, although small skin patches or nodules may be removed using minor surgery or cryotherapy (freezing).

Transplant-related Kaposi’s sarcoma

Transplant-related Kaposi’s sarcoma is a rare complication of an organ transplant. It occurs because the immunosuppressant medication used to weaken the immune system and help prevent the body rejecting the new organ can allow a previous HHV-8 infection to reactivate, which means levels of the virus increase as it starts multiplying again.

Transplant-related Kaposi’s sarcoma can be aggressive and usually needs to be treated quickly. It’s normally treated by reducing or stopping the immunosuppressants, if this is possible. If this is unsuccessful, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be used.

Endemic African Kaposi’s sarcoma

Endemic African Kaposi’s sarcoma is common in parts of Africa and is one of the most widespread types of cancer in that region.

Although this type of Kaposi’s sarcoma is classified separately from HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, many cases may actually result from an undiagnosed HIV infection. All suspected cases therefore must have an HIV test, as the most effective treatment in these cases is HIV medication.

In cases not caused by HIV infection, this type of Kaposi’s sarcoma may be the result of a genetic vulnerability to HHV-8. These cases are usually treated with chemotherapy, although sometimes radiotherapy may be used.


With proper treatment, Kaposi’s sarcoma can usually be controlled for many years. Deaths from the condition are uncommon in the UK.

The discoloured patches of skin will often shrink and fade with treatment, although they may not ever disappear completely.

A complete cure for any type of Kaposi’s sarcoma isn’t always possible, and there’s a chance the condition could recur in the future. If you think this is happening, contact your HIV clinic, hospital specialist or GP as soon as possible.

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Media Reports on HIV/AIDS – 1982 – 1992

82-92 news clips

The following, near hour reel of news clips is fascinating watching if you’re interested on early HIV/AIDS news reports.

The clips begin by informing us of a rare type of cancer which only gay men appear to contract resulting in a new ‘Gay Disease’ called AIDS.   What follows is a genuine account of how western media documented and reported on HIV / AIDS including stereotypes and blatant discrimination both toward the HIV & Gay communities.  It was only after the high profile death of  actor Rock Hudson did we see large groups of people mobilise and start to take “HIV/AIDS” seriously, in part due to the nature of HIV affecting all populations and not just homosexuals.

The videos you are about to see are products of their time.  They may depict some of the prejudices that were common place in society.  These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.  While the following does not represent LASS’ view of today’s society these clips is are being presented as they were originally broadcast, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.


  • Rare Cancer Type Traced To Homosexuals 6/17/1982
  • Gay Disease (Aids) 6/16/1982
  • Doctors Search For Answers To Aids Mystery 6/20/1983
  • Nyc Gay Parade 6/26/1983
  • Gay Pride Day Calls For Aids Help 6/27/1983
  • House Of Reps Hears Testimony On Aids 8/2/1983
  • Government Reports Scientific Breakthrough In Aids Research 4/23/1984
  • Sf Public Health Dept Closes Down Bath Houses In Sf To Curb Aids Epidemic 10/9/1984
  • Houston Prepares To Vote On Referendum On Civil Rights For Homosexuals 1/19/1985
  • Aids – Part 4 Of 5 9/12/1985
  • Actor Rock Hudson Dies After Battle With Aids 10/2/1985
  • Reporting Of Aids Cases Levels Off Indicating Change In Sexual Behavior 10/16/1985
  • Aids Becoming Political Issue In 1986 Campaigns 10/18/1985
  • Closing Of Mineshaft Gay Bar Amid Aids Crisis 11/6/1985
  • Aids Junkies 1/20/1986
  • Kokomo Parents Seek To Block Aids Boy From Returning To Class 2/20/1986
  • Ryan White Arrives For First Day Of School 8/26/1986
  • Ryan White Dies At 18 The Victim Of Aids 4/8/1990
  • Scotus To Determine States Rights On Legislative Restrictions On Gay Acts 3/31/1986
  • Justice Dept Rules Employers Can Fire Aids Victims To Prevent Aids Spreading 6/23/1986
  • Ultra-Right Winger Lyndon Larouche Asks For Quarantine Of Aids Victims 6/25/1986
  • The First Hospital Devoted To Aids Treatment : Research Opens In Texas 8/27/1986
  • Controversy Continues Over Prop 64 Which Would Quarantine Aids Patients 9/16/1986
  • Federal Government Approves Sale Of Azt In Prescription Form 3/20/1987
  • Pres Reagan Urges Youth To Abstain From Sex To Avoid Aids 4/1/1987
  • Col Legislature Considers Bill Requiring Drs To Report Names Of Hiv Positive 4/22/1987
  • Reagan Admins Long Range Plans For Aids Include Mandatory Testing 5/28/1987
  • Reagan Administration Speaks Out On Topic Of Aids Testing 6/1/1987
  • Pres Reagan Names National Commission On Aids : Includes Gay Activist 7/23/1987
  • Front Page: Gay March Contends With Aids Issue 10/11/1987
  • Washington Gay March 10/11/1987
  • Gays Protest Outside Scotus Over Lack Of Aids Funding 10/13/1987
  • Aids Protest In Nyc 3/24/1988
  • Stonewall:Gay Parade Natsot Material 6/25/1989
  • Gay Lib Demonstrators Celebrate Twenty Years Out Of The Closet 6/25/1989
  • Azt Testing Gives New Hope To Aids Patients 8/18/1989
  • After Eight: Aids Militants (Interview With Larry Kramer) 3/20/1990
  • Aids In The 90s 3/27/1990
  • Magic Johnson Press Conference Re: Testing Positive For Aids Virus 11/7/1991
  • Aids Conference In Florence Will Focus On Explosion Of Epidemic In Africa 6/16/1991
  • Aids Is Spreading Through Developing Countries 6/17/1991
  • Aids Quilt Unfurled In Washington 10/10/1992

‘Good virus’ believed to help increase survival chances in Ebola and HIV infections

All viruses may not be harmful, says a study hinting at beneficial effect of some.

All viruses may not be harmful, says a study hinting at beneficial effect of some.

A common virus that infects billions at some point of their lives is believed to deliver some protection against other deadlier viruses like HIV and Ebola.

David O’Connor, a pathology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, found the genetic fingerprints of the virus GBV-C in the records of 13 samples of blood plasma from Ebola patients.

While six of the 13 people who were co-infected with Ebola and GBV-C died, seven survived.

Combined with earlier studies that have hinted persistent infection with the virus slowed disease progression in some HIV patients, researchers think the virus could be beneficial.

The results could also simply mean that people aged 20 to 40 are more likely to be infected with GBV-C and more likely to survive Ebola.

“We’re very cautious about over-interpreting these results,” O’Connor told NPR. He is now waiting to get a bigger sample, to see if there really is a strong connection between GBV-C infection and survival.

The GB Virus-C came from a small monkey — a marmoset — that had been used in an experiment to diagnose a surgeon with hepatitis.

The virus infects a type of white blood cell and dampens part of the immune system. With HIV, the virus helps reduce inflammation, and that in turn helps slow the onset of Aids.

Cancer link

Similarly, it might also reduce inflammation in some people fighting off an Ebola infection.
However, the virus is not entirely harmless.

A National Institutes of Health study last year suggests a cancer link to the virus. People with a cancer of the lymphatic system, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, were seen to be more likely to be infected with GBV-C.

HIV mostly targets CD4 T lymphocytes, a cell involved in initiating an immune response. The virus hijacks the cell’s reproductive process to produce more copies of itself which infect and kill other cells.

Filoviruses like Ebola get all their genetic material from RNA, instead of DNA and most of the genetic information stored in the RNA codes for a handful of proteins as compared to about 20,000 in humans.

One of these proteins, glycoprotein, is suspected to play a big role in Ebola. A version of this protein is believed to bind to host cells, enter and replicate inside while another version is suspected to work by suppressing the immune system.

There is still much not known about the working of these two deadly viruses, which have also seen to mutate rapidly and deter drug treatments.

via IBM Times

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What’s your Christmas message to the Government?

The Hardest Hit are planning to send a giant Christmas card to the Government signed by thousands of disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families and friends. They want to let them know that we are not asking for gifts, but we do want our basic rights protected and the support to enable us to live independently and with dignity.

The card will be presented in December – They’ll be posting more details on their website soon. So please add your message today and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Disabled and ill people and their families are being hit hard by cuts to the benefits and services they rely on.

Many are living in fear of huge cuts to essential benefits including Disability Living Allowance (cut by £2.17 billion) and Employment and Support Allowance (cut by £2 billion). The total cuts will mean an estimated £9 billion loss to families’ incomes over the next four years, on top of cuts to many local care and support services.

This affects people and families across the UK living with conditions like HIV,  Cancer, Dementia, Arthritis, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, Sensory Impairments, Learning Disabilities, Mental Health Conditions and Physical Disabilities. Everyday lives depend on support that is under threat.

The Government’s plans to cut billions from support for disabled people and their families. Their proposals include:

  • Cutting 20% from the budget for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Disability Alliance estimates that over 700,000 disabled people could see their benefits reduced or removed. DLA helps disabled people with the extra costs of disability and without it more disabled people would be pushed into poverty. The cuts could have a knock-on impact on Carer’s Allowance, leaving thousands of families even worse off.
  • Taking mobility payments away from disabled people living in residential care and children going to residential schools. Cutting these payments would trap many in their own homes.
  • Cutting off payments of contributory Employment and Support Allowance after a year to people struggling to get back into work due to disability or serious illness.

The Hardest Hit campaign brings together disabled people and carers and organisations and groups who represent them and to send a message to Government –  you are hitting disabled people and their families the hardest: stop these cuts.

You can sign the card and leave your message by clicking this link.

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