Background: To develop strategies for prevention and early treatment of human papillomavirus (HPV) anal and penile cancer, a better understanding of related sexual behavior risk factors is needed.
Goal: The goal of this study was to establish the prevalence of anal and coronal sulcus HPV in a group of men who have sex with men participating in a Dutch gay-cohort study, to identify risk factors associated with HPV infection in this group, and to investigate the presence of identical HPV types in couples with stable relationships.
Study design: A cross-sectional study of 241 HIV-negative and 17 HIV-positive men who have sex with men visiting the sexually transmitted disease clinic of the Erasmus MC for a regular and scheduled examination. Participants underwent a routine venereological examination including HIV serologic analysis, and swabs were taken from the coronal sulcus and anus for HPV DNA testing. All subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire on sexual risk behavior.
Results: HPV DNA was detected at the coronal sulcus in 23.5% of the HIV-positive men and in 15.8% of the HIV-negative men (P=0.492). In anal specimens, HPV DNA was detected in 64.7% of the HIV-positive men and 32.8% of the HIV-negative men (P=0.015). High-risk HPV types (P=0.007) and 2 or more different HPV genotypes (P=0.006) were seen more often in anal specimens of HIV-positive persons than in specimens of HIV-negative persons. A factor possibly associated with the presence of anal HPV infection was a concomitant anal infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, gonococci, or herpes simplex virus (P=0.059). In only 16.7% of HPV-positive steady couples, both companions showed the presence of one or more identical HPV genotypes.
Conclusion: In this study, anal HPV DNA was detected more often than HPV DNA at the coronal sulcus. HIV positivity was associated with a higher prevalence of high-risk, but not with low-risk HPV types, at the anus. No association was found between HIV positivity and presence of high-risk HPV at the coronal sulcus. No sexual behavioral determinants for the presence of HPV could be identified. Concomitant anal infection with C trachomatis, gonococci, or herpes simplex virus may be associated with HPV infection. In the majority of steady couples, partners were infected with different HPV types.