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Cancer immunotherapy in adult patients with HIV
  1. Suha Abu Khalaf1,
  2. Dima Dandachi1,
  3. Bruno P Granwehr2,
  4. Maria C Rodriguez-Barradas3,4
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Missouri System, Columbia, Missouri, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  3. 3 Infectious Diseases Section, Michael E DeBakey VAMC, Houston, Texas, USA
  4. 4 Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Suha Abu Khalaf, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Missouri System, Columbia, MO 65212, USA; abukhalafs{at}


The availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased the life expectancy of people with HIV (PWH) and reduced the incidence of AIDS-associated malignancies, yet PWH have a significantly increased incidence of malignancy and less favorable outcomes of cancer treatment compared with the general population.

Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer therapy, becoming the standard of care for various malignancy treatments. However, PWH are an underserved population with limited access to clinical trials and cancer treatment.

This review of the available evidence on different classes of cancer immunotherapy in PWH is mostly based on case reports, case series, but few prospective studies and clinical trials due to the exclusion of PWH from most oncologic clinical trials. The results of the available evidence support the safety of immunotherapy in PWH. Immunotherapy has similar effectiveness in PWH, an acceptable toxicity profile, and has no clinically significant impact on HIV viral load and CD4-T cell count. In addition, there is no reported change in the incidence of opportunistic infections and other complications for PWH with well-controlled viremia.

This review aims to briefly summarize the current state of immunotherapy in cancer, guide clinicians in the management of immunotherapy in cancer PWH, and encourage the inclusion of PWH in clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy.

  • immunotherapy
  • adoptive
  • immunosuppression

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  • Contributors SAK—conceptualization and writing (original draft). DD—supervision and writing (review and editing). BPG—supervision and writing (review and editing). MCR-B—supervision and writing (review and editing). All authors have reviewed and approved the content and have contributed significantly to the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.