LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

HIV Cancer Care Program: a Destination Treatment Clinic

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Leslie Capo

Office: 504-568-4806

Cell: 504-452-9166


HIV Malignancies Program

AIDS Malignancy Consortium

Treatment advances have turned HIV/AIDS from a virtual death sentence to a chronic, manageable disease, but many cancers arise more commonly for these patients, and cancer now represents one of the leading causes of illness and death for people with HIV/AIDS. They are particularly susceptible to cancers caused by viruses, and when they develop these cancers, they have more limited survival. Many cancers arising in HIV/AIDS patients occur at a much younger age and are diagnosed at a later stage. A large, recent National Cancer Institute study reports that HIV-infected people with early-stage cancers are up to four times less likely to be treated for their cancers. Coupled with the fact that our area is among those with the highest incidence rates of HIV infection in the country, the LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center started the region’s only HIV Cancer Care Program. Partnering with the NOAIDS Task Force and University Medical Center, the program is multifaceted, conducting basic, clinical and translational research, as well as offering preventive education, direct patient care, and the most advanced experimental therapies.

The program is one of only 25 sites in the AIDS Malignancy Consortium of the United States, a clinical trials group supported by the National Cancer Institute. The Consortium is dedicated to innovative cancer treatment and prevention interventions for people living with HIV/AIDS. The LSU Health New Orleans HIV Cancer Care Program also houses a biorepository, collecting samples available to researchers at LSU Health and collaborators at other institutions.

LSU Health researchers are working to understand how HIV infection increases the risk of developing cancer. Open clinical trials are studying new treatments focusing on Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, solid tumors, and genetics/profiling of tumors, as well as new treatments for HIV itself which may reduce cancer risk.

LSU Health faculty have developed new drugs that are showing early promise in selectively and effectively attacking cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. In an ongoing clinical trial for patients with KS, approximately 80% of patients have responded to a new medication designed to concentrate preferentially in KS tumors and, therefore, reduce side effects for the patient. Thus far, the drug appears to be both safer and more effective than standard medications for KS.

“If you can get these patients through the first year or two of chemotherapy, their immune systems improve so that they can live healthy, normal lives,” notes Dr. Chris Parsons, LSU Health New Orleans Associate Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and Director of its HIV Cancer Care Program.

Dr. Christopher Parsons
kaposi sarcoma
The program has not only extended and improved the quality of life for patients who live in southeast Louisiana. It has also attracted patients from as far away as San Antonio, Texas and Florida, providing clinical trial enrollment and consultation at the request of patients and their families or physicians. LSU Health New Orleans’ HIV Cancer Care Program provides multidisciplinary care from trained medical specialists in the areas of medical oncology and infectious diseases. Program navigators provide effective coordination of care, including transportation, housing, referrals, and scheduling.

An important goal of the program is cancer prevention. To that end, educating the community and people living with HIV/AIDS about risk factors is a high priority.

To make an appointment, or learn more about clinical trials, call 504-210-3463.