Age-specific prevalence of infection with human papillomavirus in females: a global review.
OBJECTIVE In the present study we investigated the cytologic and colposcopic characteristics of a cohort of HIV-infected women, with the aim to determine a relationship between immunologic status and frequency and/or severity of cervical abnormalities. MATERIALS AND METHODS 21 women, who tested positive for the HIV antibody and who were admitted as outpatients because of various gynecologic complications or because of an HIV infection that was under regular clinical surveillance. A pelvic examination was performed and Papanicolaou smears were obtained from endocervix and ectocervix before colposcopic examination. Cytologic samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) detection by polymerase chain reaction were also collected. Results obtained in the group of HIV-infected women were compared with findings in a group of 473 seronegative women recruited consecutively from our outpatient population. Serum samples for T lymphocytes were drawn within 2 weeks of cytologic and colposcopic examination. CD4 and CD8 monoclonal antibodies were purchased from Becton Dickinson (Mountain View, Calif., USA). RESULTS HIV-infected women had a significantly higher percentage of HPV DNA positivity with respect to the outpatient population (67 vs. 7%, respectively, p < 0.001). Analysis of cytologic specimens revealed 9 women (43%) with cytologic evidence of cervical dysplasia in the HIV-seropositive group vs. 23 (5%) of 473 in the outpatient population (p < 0.001). All the HIV-seropositive women with cervical dysplasia presented an associated HPV DNA positivity; in particular, the percentage of associated HPV DNA type 16 in cervical dysplasia was 78% (7/9 cases). In HIV-infected women, the evaluation of T lymphocyte subset distribution suggested a significant relationship between CD4+ cell decrease and severity of cytologic findings (p = 0.03). DISCUSSION The HIV-infected women had a tenfold higher prevalence of both HPV infection and cervical dysplasia than the outpatient population; this increased risk seems to be limited mainly to those who also had genital HPV infection. The analysis of immunologic status confirmed previous observations that an impaired immune system results in increased cervical disease.