High frequency of latent and clinical human papillomavirus cervical infections in immunocompromised human immunodeficiency virus-infected women

Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Mar;79(3):321-7. doi: 10.1097/00006250-199203000-00001.


In 32 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women, routine gynecologic examination was performed with colposcopy and Papanicolaou smear; cervical swabs were collected for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA screening and typing; and immune status was assessed by CD4 T-cell count. Dot blot analysis was specifically chosen for HPV DNA screening to detect only relatively substantial HPV DNA infections. Polymerase chain reaction analysis was used for precise DNA typing of dot blot-positive samples. The HPV data were assessed for immune status; a subject with a CD4 T-cell count below 200/microL was considered functionally immunosuppressed. The frequency of dot blot positivity was fivefold higher among immunocompromised (nine of ten) than relatively immunocompetent (four of 22) HIV-infected women. Moreover, four immunosuppressed women, compared with no immunocompetent subjects, had evidence of HPV DNA without signs of HPV-associated lesions by cytology or histology (ie, latent HPV infection). Furthermore, four of nine of the immunocompromised, compared with four of 21 immunocompetent, subjects had cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. These frequencies are high compared with those reported in the general population. Finally, HPV 18 was detected in five of the ten women with CD4 T-cell counts below 200/microL and in only one of the 22 with CD4 T-cell counts above that level. These results suggest that the normal immune system suppresses latent and clinical HPV cervical infections and that the efficiency of suppression may be HPV type-specific. Furthermore, impaired immune status, as reflected by CD4 T-cell count, is an important factor increasing the severity of HPV-induced cervical infections in this population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • DNA Probes, HPV
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae* / classification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / complications*
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / immunology
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / microbiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / complications
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / immunology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / microbiology


  • CD4 Antigens
  • DNA Probes, HPV