Scientists from the University of NSW in Sydney found that people with impaired immune systems like HIV or kidney transplant patients were more likely than healthy people to develop cancers linked to infections. The researchers published their findings in The Lancet medical journal.

HIV virus when left untreated impairs the human immune system and makes HIV sufferers more prone to lethal infections in the liver, lungs, and other organs. Kidney transplant patients’ immune systems are impaired due to the necessity of taking drugs that ensure that their bodies wouldn’t reject the organ.

The Australian researchers looked at over 440,000 people with HIV and 30,000 kidney transplant patients. They found that both groups were several times more likely than healthy people to develop cancers linked to infections. The increased risk was linked to immune deficiency, common to both groups.

This finding may change the way HIV is treated. Patients may receive treatments with anti-retroviral drugs Kaletra and efavirenz earlier.
There is a big fear that infection-related cancers will become an increasingly important complication of long-term HIV infection. Besides known cancers linked to HIV such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Kaposi's sarcoma and cervical cancer, the study found that these patients were more likely to develop mouth, penis, anus, liver, stomach, esophagus, larynx and eye cancers.

There was no increased risk found of developing cancers not linked to infection, such as breast and prostate tumors. The incidence was the same as for the general population.

The researchers are planning to examine people with inherited immune deficiency and those who had other organs transplanted to see if the findings hold.