Antiretroviral Therapy and the Clinical Evolution of Human Papillomavirus-Associated Genital Lesions in HIV-Positive Women

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The effect of antiretroviral therapy on the natural history of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated genital lesions was evaluated in 201 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women who were followed-up for 1–6 years. Gynecologic examinations were performed every 6–12 months. HPV sequences in cervico-vaginal cells, analyzed by polymerase chain reaction and typed by restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis, were repeatedly detected in 126 women; 29 had transient HPV infection. Genital lesions were found in 137 patients; prevalence was comparable in women who were receiving different antiretroviral regimens. Regression of low-grade lesions was more prevalent among patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy than among those receiving other regimens; high-grade lesions regressed in the majority of cases, regardless of antiretroviral therapy. HPV infection persisted in nearly 80% of the cases. In conclusion, our data show that antiretroviral therapy does not prevent the development of HPV-associated lesions and does not eliminate HPV infection; therefore, early and strict gynecologic follow-up of HIV-infected women is warranted.

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