A small number of patients positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been reported as developing acute non-lymphoblastic leukaemia (ANLL) and none has achieved remission despite attempts at treatment.
We report on a 34-year-old HIV positive heterosexual intravenous drug user who presented with ANLL (FAB classification M5, Monoblastic) and entered remission following one cycle of cytosine arabinoside and daunorubicin according to the 7-3 protocol of the Australian Leukaemia Study Group (ALSG). This was followed by consolidation of 5-2 as per ALSG and one cycle of maintenance with low dose cytosine arabinoside. Ten months after remission, he relapsed but achieved a second remission with the ALSG 7-3-7 protocol (7-3 plus etoposide) followed by consolidation with 5-2-5. He remained HIV positive but showed little progression towards the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome despite the intense immunosuppression. The duration of his second remission was five months. The patient died of septicaemia during the third attempt at remission induction 18 months after diagnosis.
We conclude that HIV seropositivity is not an absolute contraindication to aggressive chemotherapy in those patients who develop ANLL.