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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Malignancies in AIDS and Other Acquired Immunodeficiencies (ICMAOI)

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HIV/AIDS-related non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and confounders: preliminary report of the Sub-Saharan Africa Lymphoma Consortium (SSALC)

Leona W Ayers1*, E Akin Abayomi2, Clement Adebamowo3, David K Chumba4, Yawale Iliyasu5, Kikkeri N Naresh6, Joseph R NDung’u7, Yvonne Perner8, Wendy Stevens9 and Lynnette K Tumwine10

Author Affiliations

1 The Ohio State University Department of Pathology, Columbus, OH, USA

2 Stellenbosch University Division of Haematology, Cape Town, South Africa

3 Institute of Human Virology, Abuja, Nigeria; University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

4 Moi University Department of Human Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Eldoret, Kenya

5 Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Department of Pathology, Zaria, Nigeria

6 Imperial College Department of Medicine, London, England, United Kingdom

7 University of Nairobi Department of Pathology, Nairobi, Kenya

8 University of the Witwatersrand School of Pathology, Division of Anatomical Pathology, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

9 University of the Witwatersrand School of Pathology, Division of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

10 Makerere University Department of Pathology, Kampala, Uganda

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Infectious Agents and Cancer 2012, 7(Suppl 1):P11  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-7-S1-P11

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:19 April 2012

© 2012 Ayers et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


SSALC was established to characterize HIV/AIDS-related lymphoma and the indigenous background of malignant lymphomas (ML) in sub-Saharan Africa. Because WHO classified lymphoma subgroups can vary in prevalence African, Asian or European ancestry, we surveyed lymphoma heterogeneity in geographically diverse East, South and West sub-Saharan populations, particularly for HIV/AIDS associated immunophenotypes.


A consortium of African pathologists, hematologist/oncologists and oncologic surgeons contributed ML cases and participated in sub-grouping according to WHO classification criteria after appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals, Memoranda of Understanding and Material Transfer Agreements were obtained. Paraffin blocks were examined for tissue morphology (H&E), immunophenotype (34 antibodies IHC), EBER, kappa and lambda light chains (CISH) and c-myc and bcl2 translocations (FISH). HIV/AIDS diversity controls were contributed from Europe by consortium and USA by ACSR.


Consortium members contributed 46 - 368 cases each with 1408 total cases to date: 246 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), 296 Burkitt lymphoma, 163 Hodgkin disease, 69 plasma cell proliferative disorders and 644 others. Aggressive DLBCL, plasmacytoma/plasmablastic lymphoma, KSHV disease and lymphoid hyperplasia will be highlighted.


Sub-Saharan Africa has a variety of ML subgroups; true incidence altered by: 1) Aspiration vs. biopsy for diagnosis; 2) HIV status not communicated to pathologist; 3) known HIV/AIDS patients not biopsied; 4) initial diagnosis by morphology alone, 5) tissue preservation/processing variable.. General observations: HIV/AIDS-related lymphoma is more likely EBER+, has higher cell proliferation rates, and unfavorable immunophenotypes; regions differ in HIV clades with South (clade C) having the most “immunosuppression” associated lymphoma subgroups; East region has more pre-T lymphoblastic lymphomas and West region has more follicular lymphomas. Confounders: infectious lymphadenopathies (EBV+ lymphoproliferations), undifferentiated neuroblastomas, neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs), poorly differentiated, metastatic carcinomas and malignant melanoma (amelanotic).


AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR) NCI U01-CA66531-s Sub-Saharan Africa Lymphoma Consortium (SSALC).