Anal cancer rates, which were higher for men who have sex with men (MSM) compared to the general population before HIV, increased dramatically after the HIV epidemic began and continue to increase in HIV-infected MSM despite the advent of antiretroviral therapy and associated immune reconstitution. Because of the similarity to cervical cancer and an established link to human papillomavirus infection, many experts have called for widespread implementation of anal cytological screening and treatment programs, especially for HIV-infected MSM. However, other experts argue that it is too early for widespread implementation of such programs for reasons including lack of clear evidence that anal dysplasia is a precursor to anal cancer, or that detecting and treating anal dysplasia reduces the risk for developing anal cancer; lack of effective treatments for anal dysplasia when it is discovered; and lack of resources. This paper reviews current literature regarding these issues.
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