Healthy behavioral choices and cancer screening in persons living with HIV/AIDS are different by sex and years since HIV diagnosis

The prevalence of non-AIDS-related malignancies is on the rise among people aging with HIV population, but the evidence on healthy behaviors including cancer screening practices in this population subgroup is extremely limited. Therefore, we investigated the prevalence of healthy behaviors and sex-specific cancer screening among persons living with HIV, by sex and time since HIV diagnosis.

We included 517 persons living with HIV from the Florida Cohort. Data were obtained from the baseline and follow-up questionnaires, electronic medical records, and Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System. The prevalence of self-reported, age-appropriate cancer screening (anal, colorectal, prostate, breast, and cervical), and healthy behaviors (sustaining healthy body weight, refraining from smoking and alcohol and engaging in physical activity) was compared by sex and years since HIV diagnosis (≤ 13 vs. > 13 years).

In the analyses by sex, females were more likely to be obese than males (56.5% vs. 22.2%, p < 0.0001). Distribution of healthy behaviors did not differ by time since diagnosis among males and females. In the analysis of age-appropriate screening among males, 64.8% never had an anal Pap-smear, 36.2% never had a colonoscopy, and 38.9% never had prostate cancer screening. In the analysis of age-appropriate screening among females, 50.0% never had an anal Pap-smear, 46.5% never had a colonoscopy, 7.9% never had a cervical Pap-smear, and 12.7% never had a mammogram. The difference in anal Pap-smear by sex was statistically significant (p < 0.0001). Among males, the age-adjusted prevalence of never having a colonoscopy was higher in those who had HIV for ≤ 13 years (50.8% vs. 30.6%, p = 0.03).

The prevalence of selected healthy behaviors and cancer screening differed by sex and/or years since HIV diagnosis suggesting a need for tailored cancer prevention efforts among persons living with HIV via long-term sex-specific interventions.