Background: Anal cancer is a relatively common cancer among HIV-infected populations. There are limited data on the prevalence of anal high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) infection and anal dysplasia in HIV-infected women from resource-constrained settings.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of HIV-infected women aged 25-65 years recruited from an HIV clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cervical and anal swabs were taken for conventional cytology and HR-HPV testing. Women with abnormal anal cytology and 20% of women with negative cytology were seen for high-resolution anoscopy with biopsy of visible lesions.
Results: Two hundred women were enrolled. Anal HR-HPV was found in 43%. The anal cytology results were negative in 51 (26%); 97 (49%) had low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL), 32 (16%) had atypical squamous cells of unknown significance, and 19 (9.5%) had high-grade SIL or atypical squamous cells suggestive of high-grade SIL. On high-resolution anoscopy, 71 (36%) had atypia or low-grade SIL on anal histology and 17 (8.5%) had high-grade SIL. Overall, 31 (17.5%) had high-grade SIL present on anal cytology or histology. Abnormal cervical cytology was found in 70% and cervical HR-HPV in 41%.
Conclusions: We found a significant burden of anal HR-HPV infection, abnormal anal cytology, and high-grade SIL in our cohort. This is the first study of the prevalence of anal dysplasia in HIV-infected women from sub-Saharan Africa. Additional studies are needed to define the epidemiology of these conditions, as well as the incidence of anal cancer, in this population.