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What effect does an HIV or AIDS diagnosis have on the implementation of life saving treatments? Is the AIDS virus somehow related to leukemia?

Tweety, BSN, RN

Has 28 years experience. Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

The AIDS virus I don't think is related to leukemia. There's lots of information that you can read and learn about the HIV.

HIV or AIDS diagnosis should have no effect on the implementation of life-saving treatments, unless the person infected chooses for him/herself not to have them implemented.

caroladybelle, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

What effect does an HIV or AIDS diagnosis have on the implementation of life saving treatments? Is the AIDS virus somehow related to leukemia?

HIV/AIDs does not in and of itself change implementation of lifesaving treatments. While in the near past (10-15 years ago), when lifespan from Dx to death was around 1-3 years, there was ethical issues with using extreme life prolonging treatments, current lifespans and quality of life for HIV positive patients are much improved. To a certain extent, the disease is now more like a chronic illness with treatment, than an immediate terminal diagnosis.

Is HIV related to leukemia? This has some minor bits of truth in it. Now, that HIV patients are living longer, we are seeing many of them develop certain lymphomas, especially Burkitt's lymphoma. I have had a large number of young patients that were diagnosed with Burkitt's and because of risk factor issues (low risk for lymphoma, high risk for HIV), were given an HIV test and were positive. It is very sad to get such a double dose of bad news. yet many of them do still take chemo and some do quite well.

Please also note that the cancer Kaposi's Sarcoma was one of the hallmarks for HIV in the early years of the epidemic.

Virtually any condition that one has that causes immunocompromise, places one at higher risk for cancer. A healthy immune system should destroy defective cells when they develop, an unhealthy one may not. Thus, HIV could be considered a risk issue.

In addition, some of the populations at higher risk for HIV also have higher risk factors for cancer. Those that abuse drugs/alcohol are more likely to develop pancreatic/gastric/esophageal cancers. Females that have multiple sex partners at a young age have a much higher risk of cervical cancer. People at risk for bloodborne hepatitis also have the risk of liver cancer secondary to the hepatitis.

In addition, there are some viruses, such as HTLV I/II, that are closely related to development of some liquid tumors (liquid tumors = myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia). HTLV positive patients have an increased risk of some of these cancers, most notably T-cell Lymphoma/leukemia . And HTLV is tested for by using the ELISA test and confirmed by Western Blot test, like HIV is. It is also a retrovirus and was researched by Dr. Gallo and the NIH (major specialist in retroviruses) in the early 1980's at the same time as the HIV virus. Many of the risk factors for HTLV are similiar to HIV even though HTLV does not uniformly cause illness and not generally fatal in and of itself (to my limited knowledge).

The virus that causes genital warts is connected to a heightened risk of cervical cancer.

In cats, the feline leukemia virus is very similar to HIV, which also causes some confusion. In the initial work done on HIV in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some research focused on this issue. But the disease does not cross over to humans from cats, and I do not believe any major links other than some similarities were found.

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