Objective: To investigate the impact of HIV infection on the prevalence, incidence and short-term prognosis of squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL), in a prospective study with 1-year follow-up.
Methods: Between 1993 and 1995, 271 HIV-positive and 171 HIV-negative women at high risk of HIV infection were recruited, 365 (82.6%) of whom completed the 1-year follow-up. The women underwent a Papanicolaou smear test at inclusion and at 6 and 12 months. Human papillomavirus (HPV) was detected at inclusion by Southern blot and PCR.
Results: The SIL prevalence ranged from 7.5% for HIV-negative to 31.3% for HIV-positive women with CD4 cell counts < 500 x 10(6)/l (P < 0.001). Other factors associated independently and significantly with SIL prevalence were HPV-16, 18, 33 and related types, HPV-31, -35, -39 and related types, lifetime number of partners, younger age, past history of SIL and lack of past cervical screening. The SIL incidence ranged from 4.9% in HIV-negative women to 27% in HIV-positive women with CD4 cells < 500 x 10(6)/l (P < 0.001). Progression from low- to high-grade SIL during follow-up was detected in 38.1% of HIV-positive women with CD4 cells < or = 500 x 10(6)/l but in no HIV-negative nor HIV-positive women with CD4 cells > 500 x 10(6)/l. HPV-16, 18, 33 and related types were also associated with higher incidence of SIL and progression from low- to high-grade SIL.
Conclusion: HIV-induced immunodeficiency is associated with high prevalence, incidence and persistence/progression of SIL. A pejorative influence of HIV infection without marked immunodeficiency is less clear. HIV-positive women with SIL may thus benefit from early treatment when a useful immune response is still present.