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Medics Worried About Rising HIV Associated Cancers 

By Yerima Kini Nsom & Nformi Sonde Kinsai — Some medical doctors drawn from across Cameroon have expressed worries about the increase of cancers diagnosed in people living with HIV/AIDS.
The doctors aired the concerns during a workshop from August 31 to September 1, organised by the Yaounde-based Medical Diagnostic Center, MDC, and the USA-based New York University.

The theme of the workshop was “HIV and Virally Induced Cancers.” In one of the resolutions, the medics called on the Government to consider the rising HIV/cancers trend as a serious public health issue. The Director of the Buea General Hospital and Coordinator of the workshop, Dr. Enow-Orock,

said the workshop was meant for medical doctors charged with the management of HIV/AIDS patients and those charged with the management of patients suffering from cancers. He noted that HIV/AIDS predisposes patients to certain cancers which include Kaposi sarcoma, cancer of the uterine and cervix in women, lymphoma, amongst others.According to Dr. Enow-Orock, the workshop contributed in strengthening the capacities of the doctors on how to manage patients who have HIV/AIDS and develop cancers.

“When a patient comes with HIV/AIDS, it should be put in focus that we have to screen that patient for cancer and when a patient comes with cancer, it is important to screen the patient for HIV/AIDS. When these two diseases are discovered, they can be managed and quality of life of the patient improved to acceptable international standards,” Enow-Orock declared. On what the situation of the two diseases is in Cameroon, Dr. Enow-Orock told The Post that; “HIV/AIDS has stabilised and is even witnessing a downward trend in the country.

But the complications that arise from HIV/AIDS infection are on the rise. Cancers associated with HIV/AIDS are on the rise because it takes time for HIV virus to weaken the immune system and then for a cancer to emerge. So, even though the rates of HIV have stabilised, these complications, including HIV associated cancers, are going to increase for about five years before they stabilise and have a downward trend. And that is the situation we have in our country today,” he maintained.

In a series of recommendations, the doctors called for continuous capacity-building in HIV associated malignancies in low resource areas, decentralise the training and take it to other regions of Cameroon, and enhanced collaboration between managers of HIV and cancer registries. Participants urged public health officials to recognise HIV/AIDS malignancies as a public health problem. Meanwhile, the Technical Director of MDC, Sir Johnson Ngai, talked of the likelihood of more training programmes in the horizon.

A 7th year medical student of the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Letitia Boade, said they compared what happened in the past with what obtains today with regards to the evolution of HIV/AIDS. The student acknowledged that, with the evolution of the disease, there is a multiplication of several cancers. To Etienne Atemgena, a medical oncologist, the incidence of HIV in cancer patients is about 20 percent, which, according to him, is high. “Taking into consideration the incidence of HIV in the general population, it is clear that cancer patients are a risky population to HIV,” he held.

The workshop was marked by paper presentations. Dr. Enow-Orock talked on “Cancer trends in Cameroon” while Dr. Judith Torimiro presented papers on “HIV diversity,” and on “Antiviral drug resistance.” Prof. Anderson Doh drilled the participants on “National cancer control policy in Cameroon” while Prof. Robinson Mbu, in a discussion, talked on “Medical research topics on HIV related cancers.”

Others included Dr. Pisoh Tangyin who talked on “Surgical challenges in patients with HIV/cancers,” Prof. Paul Ndom presented a paper on “Therapeutic challenges of HIV/cancers,” while Prof. Wilfred Mbacham’s paper was captioned, “HIV cancers and impact at workplace in Cameroon.”

First published in The Post print edition no 01371

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