Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Human Papilloma Virus - why HPV-induced lesions do not spontaneously resolve and why therapeutic vaccination can be successful

J Transl Med. 2009 Dec 18;7:108. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-7-108.


HIV and HPV can both cause chronic infections and are acquired during sexual contact. HIV infection results in a progressive loss of CD4+ T cells that is associated with an increased prevalence of HPV infections, type-specific persistence and an increase in HPV-associated malignancies. On the one hand this illustrates the important role of HPV-specific CD4+ helper T-cell immunity, on the other it shows the Achilles heel of the HPV-specific immune response. The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) results in a rapid reduction of HIV and a reconstitution of systemic CD4+ T-cell levels. The use of HAART thus has the potential to raise immunity to HPV but to the surprise of many, the incidence of HPV-induced diseases has increased rather than declined since the introduction of HAART. Here, the knowledge on how HPV-induced diseases develop in the face of a non-compromised immune system will be used to explain why the effect of HAART on HPV-induced diseases is modest at best. Furthermore, exciting new data in the field of therapeutic vaccines against HPV will be discussed as this may form a more durable and clinically successful therapeutic approach for the treatment of HPV-induced high-grade lesions in HIV-positive subjects on HAART.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Vaccination