Human papillomavirus infection in the oral cavity of HIV patients is not reduced by initiating antiretroviral therapy

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The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oral malignancies is increasing among HIV-infected populations, and the prevalence of oral warts has reportedly increased among HIV patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). We explored whether ART initiation among treatment-naive HIV-positive adults is followed by a change in oral HPV infection or the occurrence of oral warts.


Prospective, observational study.


HIV-1 infected, ART-naive adults initiating ART in a clinical trial were enrolled. End points included detection of HPV DNA in throat-washes, changes in CD4+ T-cell count and HIV RNA, and oral wart diagnosis.


Among 388 participants, 18% had at least one HPV genotype present before initiating ART, and 24% had at least one genotype present after 12–24 weeks of ART. Among those with undetectable oral HPV DNA before ART, median change in CD4+ count from study entry to 4 weeks after ART initiation was larger for those with detectable HPV DNA during follow-up than those without (P =  0.003). Both prevalence and incidence of oral warts were low (3% of participants having oral warts at study entry; 2.5% acquiring oral warts during 48 weeks of follow-up).


These results suggest: effective immune control of HPV in the oral cavity of HIV-infected patients is not reconstituted by 24 weeks of ART; whereas ART initiation was not followed by an increase in oral warts, we observed an increase in oral HPV DNA detection after 12–24 weeks. The prevalence of HPV-associated oral malignancies may continue to increase in the modern ART era.

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