A higher incidence of cancer has been observed in Human Immunodeficiency Virus
(HIV) infected individuals as compared with healthy people of the same age. A complex
relationship between HIV-induced immune suppression, chronic antigenic stimulation, and
oncogenic virus co-infections may promote carcinogenesis and increase the risk of developing
tumors in these patients. Cancers in HIV subjects include the AIDS-defining malignancies
(ADMs) and other non-AIDS-defining malignancies (NADMs). Antiretroviral therapy has reduced
the incidence of ADMs whereas a concurrent increase of NADMs was observed in the last years.
Biomarkers are measurable parameters, characterizing normal or pathogenic processes, which
could provide a high potential for risk evaluation and diagnosis of patients. Therefore, the early
detection of cancer biomarkers in HIV-positive subjects would be useful to identify patients at
most risk of tumor disease development.
This review will focus principally on the risk assessment and diagnostic role of several biomarkers
of malignancy in HIV patients including cellular and viral biomarkers, cytokines, immune
activation molecules and genetic polymorphisms.