The role of oncogenic human papillomavirus determination for diagnosis of high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia in HIV-infected MSM

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To assess the oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) determination and the cotesting HPV and anal cytology value to detect high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia (HGAIN) in a cohort of HIV–MSM.

Design and methods:

Prospective study of HIV-infected MSM who underwent screening for anal dysplasia. Screening program includes anal cytology, HPV testing, and high-resolution anoscopy (HRA) at each visit. Histological samples were obtained if suspicious lesions were revealed by HRA. Sensitivity and specificity of the different tests were calculated by using histological results of HRA-guided biopsy as the reference test for HGAIN diagnosis.


From May 2009 to August 2016, 692 HIV-infected MSM underwent 1827 anal cytologies, 1841 HRA examinations, and 1607 HPV testing. At first screening visit, anal cytology results were abnormal in 418 (60.4%) of 692 patients, and oncogenic HPV genotypes were found in 482 (79.5%) of 606 patients. Anal cytology showed a sensitivity of 89.2% [95% confidence interval (CI); 80.7–94.2] and a specificity of 44.2% (95% CI; 40.2–48.2) to detect HGAIN. Oncogenic HPV testing had 90.4% sensitivity (95% CI; 82–86.8) and 24.4% specificity (95% CI; 20.8–28.3). Cotesting showed a 97.4% sensitivity (95% CI; 91–99.3) and 14% specificity (95% CI; 11.2–17.3). In patients with atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance on cytology, oncogenic HPV testing had 91.3% sensitivity and 28.3% specificity to detect HGAIN.


Abnormal cytology and oncogenic HPV determination showed similar sensitivity for detecting HGAIN. The two tests used together improved the sensitivity but with lowered specificity. In our opinion, HPV testing does not improve HGAIN detection and should not replace anal cytology as a standard screening test for HIV-infected MSM.

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