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ImageA new study has revealed that people suffering from HIV may be at a risk of developing life-threatening cancer, including lung, head and neck, liver, kidney, and anal cancers.

Considering the increasing number of non-AIDS defining cancers researchers studied if a particular cancer drug could be given to people taking highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV. "Up to this point, oncologists have not had much information about treating cancer in people taking HAART," said John Deeken, a research physician at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"We're basically at square one because people with HIV usually are not included in cancer clinical trials.

They're excluded because physicians are worried about causing further immune suppression in HIV patients, and because HAART drugs are notorious for causing drug-drug interactions and serious side effects," he added.

The researchers examined two groups out if which, one included those whose HAART combination did not include ritonavir, while the other group took a ritonavir-based protease inhibitor HAART cocktail. 19 patients were enrolled, treated, and completed at least one cycle of therapy. It was observed that Sunitinib (50mg/day) was well tolerated in patients taking non-ritonavir based HAART regimens.

However, patients treated with sunitinib in group two, those taking the ritonavir-based therapy, experienced more side effects including higher rates of neutropenia. "When the trial is complete, we may have data to recommend that patients take different dosages of sunitinib based on what HAART cocktail they are taking.

We also found that patients could keep taking their HIV medications safely, and that sunitinib did not affect the HIV disease status of patients in either group," said Deeken.

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