Anogenital warts and other HPV-associated anogenital lesions in the HIV-positive patient: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of interventions assessed in controlled clinical trials

Sex Transm Infect. 2017 Dec;93(8):543-550. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2016-053035. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Objectives: Anogenital warts (AGW, condylomata acuminata) and intraepithelial neoplasia (IEN) do not only impact health and social well-being, they are also associated with considerable costs for the healthcare systems. Immunocompromised and HIV-positive patients carry the highest epidemiological burden of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and comprise a population specifically susceptible to treatment failures and recurrences. This systematic review aimed at identifying and appraising the available evidence from controlled studies of interventions for the treatment of AGW and IEN in immunocompromised patients.

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive literature search. The Cochrane Collaboration's tool was used to assess risk of bias in included studies. Our confidence in the (pooled) effect-estimates was evaluated according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach. All evaluations were based on data independently extracted by two review authors.

Results: Nine randomised controlled trials and two controlled studies were eligible, investigating external AGW, intra-anal and/or vaginal warts, and intra-anal and/or perianal IEN. The identified studies assessed imiquimod, cidofovir, fluorouracil, electrocautery, systemic interferon-α and interferon-β, and the combination of intralesional interferon-α and podophyllin. Four studies combined an ablational intervention with either imiquimod, cidofovir, intralesional or systemic interferon-α. One study investigated an experimental therapeutic vaccination (HPV 16 E7) at different concentrations.

Conclusions: The quality of the evidence ranged from 'very low' to 'moderate' and was limited by the often small samples. Evidence was available for the efficacy of electrocautery for intra-anal IEN, and imiquimod cream for external AGW. Some further interventions should be subjected to investigations in larger samples. No data on some interventions established for the treatment of AGW in immunocompetent patients such as podophyllotoxin, sinecatechins, laser ablation or trichloroacetate were available. Future trials should address these gaps and include relevant patient-reported outcomes such as health-related quality of life.


Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminoquinolines / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anus Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Anus Diseases / etiology*
  • Anus Diseases / virology
  • Coinfection
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / complications*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / drug therapy
  • Genital Diseases, Female / virology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / complications*
  • Genital Diseases, Male / drug therapy
  • Genital Diseases, Male / virology
  • HIV Seropositivity / complications*
  • HIV Seropositivity / virology
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Immunocompetence
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Warts / drug therapy*
  • Warts / etiology*
  • Warts / virology


  • Aminoquinolines
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Imiquimod