Evolution of cervical abnormalities among women with HIV-1: evidence from surveillance cytology in the women's interagency HIV study

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2001 Aug 15;27(5):432-42. doi: 10.1097/00126334-200108150-00003.


Objective: To determine incidence, progression, and regression rates for abnormal cervical cytology and their correlates among women with HIV.

Methods: In a multicenter prospective cohort study conducted October 1, 1994, through September 30, 1999 at university, public, and private medical centers and clinics, 1639 HIV-seropositive and 452 seronegative women were evaluated every 6 months for up to 5 years using history, cervical cytology, T-cell subsets, and quantitative plasma HIV RNA. Human papillomavirus (HPV) typing at baseline was determined by polymerase chain reaction. Cytology was read using the Bethesda system, with any smear showing at least atypia considered abnormal. Poisson regression identified factors associated with incident cytologic abnormalities whereas logistic regression identified those associated with progression and regression after an abnormality.

Results: At least one abnormal smear was found during all of follow-up among 73.0% of HIV-seropositive patients and 42.3% of seronegatives (p <.001). Only 5.9% of seropositives ever developed high-grade lesions, and the proportion with high-grade findings did not rise over time. Incidence of atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance (ASCUS) or more severe lesions among HIV-seropositive patients and seronegative patients was 26.4 and 11.0/100 woman-years (rate ratio [RR], 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-3.0), whereas that of at least low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL) was 8.9 and 2.2/100 (RR, 4.0; CI, 2.6-6.1). HIV status, detection of the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV), CD4 lymphocyte count, and HIV RNA level predicted incidence of abnormal cytology (p <.05); HPV detection and HIV RNA level predicted progression (p <.01); and HPV detection, CD4 lymphocyte count, and HIV RNA level predicted regression (p <.001). Rates of incidence, progression, and regression of abnormal cytology did not differ between HIV seronegative women and seropositive women with CD4 lymphocyte counts >200/mm(3) and HIV RNA levels <4000/ml of similar HPV status.

Conclusions: Although HIV infected women were at high risk for abnormal cytology, high-grade changes were uncommon. HIV status, HPV detection, CD4 lymphocyte count, and HIV RNA level predicted the incidence of cervical cytologic abnormalities. Progression was significantly increased only among the most immunosuppressed women, while regression was significantly reduced in all HIV seropositive women except those with the best controlled HIV disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / complications
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / diagnosis
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Vaginal Smears*


  • RNA, Viral