Mbulawa ZZ, Johnson LF, Marais DJ, Gustavsson I, Moodley JR, Coetzee D, Gyllensten U, Williamson AL
BMC Infect. Dis. 14 (-) 51 [2014-01-31; online 2014-01-31]
Persistent high-risk (HR) human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and increased HR-HPV viral load are associated with the development of cancer. This study investigated the effect of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection, HIV viral load and CD4 count on the HR-HPV viral load; and also investigated the predictors of cervical abnormalities. Participants were 292 HIV-negative and 258 HIV-positive women. HR-HPV viral loads in cervical cells were determined by the real-time polymerase chain reaction. HIV-positive women had a significantly higher viral load for combined alpha-9 HPV species compared to HIV-negative women (median 3.9 copies per cell compared to 0.63 copies per cell, P = 0.022). This was not observed for individual HPV types. HIV-positive women with CD4 counts >350/μl had significantly lower viral loads for alpha-7 HPV species (median 0.12 copies per cell) than HIV-positive women with CD4 ≤350/μl (median 1.52 copies per cell, P = 0.008), but low CD4 count was not significantly associated with increased viral load for other HPV species. High viral loads for alpha-6, alpha-7 and alpha-9 HPV species were significant predictors of abnormal cytology in women. HIV co-infection significantly increased the combined alpha-9 HPV viral load in women but not viral loads for individual HPV types. High HR-HPV viral load was associated with cervical abnormal cytology.