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October 11, 1985

Retrovirus and Malignant Lymphoma in Homosexual Men

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Internal Medicine (Drs Levine, Gill, and Burkes), Pathology (Drs Meyer, Parker, Lukes, and Rasheed), and Preventive Medicine (Drs Ross and Krailo and Ms Dworsky), University of Southern California School of Medicine, Kenneth Norris, Jr, Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, and the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1985;254(14):1921-1925. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360140079029

We report malignant lymphoma in 27 homosexual men, of whom 22 had high-grade lymphomas (B-cell immunoblastic sarcoma or small non-cleaved lymphoma) and five had low-grade disease. Antibody to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) was present in 13 (87%) of 15 with high-grade lymphoma and in two (40%) of five with low-grade disease. In contrast, only one (9%) of 11 "control" heterosexual patients with high-grade lymphoma had antibody to HTLV-III, while such antibody was found in none of 40 asymptomatic heterosexual controls and in 17 (55%) of 31 asymptomatic homosexual men. Of the homosexual lymphoma patients, 85% presented with disease in extranodal sites, including the central nervous system and rectum, and 81% had reversed T-helper/suppressor ratios. Median survival, despite treatment, is eight months. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related lymphomas in homosexual men are extranodal, high-grade, B-lymphoid tumors, associated with exposure to HTLV-III and unusual clinical characteristics.

(JAMA 1985;254:1921-1925)