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Anal cancer added to list of HIV-related afflictions

Sun 25 Nov 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

A cancer cell dividing into two calls Yet another medical malady, anal cancer, looks set to be added to the growing list of problems afflicting people who are long-term survivors of HIV infection. Speaking after yesterday's Annual General Meeting of the NZ AIDS Foundation at which he raised the profile of the problem, the Foundation's executive director Shaun Robinson says a visiting Sydney HIV specialist recently predicted to Auckland Hospital's Infectious Diseases teams that "anal cancer is going to be the next wave of care issues for people living with HIV." "We have a generation of men with HIV who are coming into the age when men are more vulnerable to cancer anyway," says Robinson, "but there is growing evidence that gay men are more prone to anal cancer and men with HIV even more so." Robinson feels it is a similar situation to cervical cancer in women. "The anal tract is one of those points of transition between the internal and external workings of the body. It's quite porous and the cells are quite vulnerable." HIV assaults the body by hijacking and degrading the immune system, the very mechanism by which the body tries to fight diseases and disorders such as cancer. "There is overwhelming evidence that anal cancer is on our horizon," says the General Manager of HIV-positive people's support and advocacy organisation Body Positive. "We are keen on getting HIV-positive men examined for it," says Kilmister, "but there's not a lot of support available at this stage. However, the treatment people at the hospitals are starting to take it very seriously too. We are hoping to offer a twice-yearly check for people with HIV as early detection and intervention is vitally important for getting the best outcome possible where cancer is involved." Symptoms of anal cancer include bloating and changes in bowel habits, a lump near the anus, rectal bleeding, itching or discharge. The overwhelming majority of people contracting HIV and living with the virus in New Zealand are gay and bisexual men. Other serious medical problems already facing people living with HIV are impaired liver and kidney function, 'AIDS dementia,' peripheral neuropathy which leaves the nerve endings exposed and extremely painful, significant dental issues, cardiac complications and a rapidly increasing list of other debilitating ailments.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 25th November 2012 - 5:44pm

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