Moffitt receives NCI grant to investigate virus-associated tumors among HIV patients in sub-Saharan Africa

The Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center is expanding its viral infection research in Africa. The cancer center has received a $5.5 million, five-year specialized research center grant (U54CA277834) from the National Cancer Institute to investigate virus-associated tumors that disproportionately impact men and women living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

Two-thirds of people living with HIV call sub-Saharan Africa home. Their immunosuppression from the virus that causes AIDS leaves them susceptible to infections that cause cancer and makes it more difficult to control viral infections, such as human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr, increasing their risk of developing cancer. Moffitt, working with institutions in the United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Germany, will develop the Partnership to Assess Viral and Immune Landscape Intersections with Oncology (PAVILION) for people living with HIV program.

"Our research team will work in countries that have the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world, countries that are also seeing rapid increases in the cancer burden. Our long-term goal is to develop cancer prevention and treatment strategies to reduce the cancer burden among people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries. To achieve this goal we will study the specific types of infections that are causing these cancers and the factors that impact survival," said Anna Giuliano, Ph.D., founding director of the Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer.

PAVILION will focus on a wide range of cancers caused by HPV, including anal, cervical, oropharyngeal, penile and vulvar cancers. The program will also investigate the potential role of the Epstein-Barr virus in conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in high and low resource countries. This population also experiences poorer cancer treatment outcomes.

"This is important research that has the potential to impact millions of people living with HIV," Giuliano added.


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