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Home HPV Research HPV Research HPV May Increase HIV Risk

HPV May Increase HIV Risk

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A study in Kenya finds men with HPV are at increased risk of acquiring HIV.

Reams of data indicate that a number of sexually transmitted infections – including genital herpes and chlamydia -increase the risk of contracting HIV. The link primarily involves an immune response to an infection that increases specific cells that HIV targets. The risk with herpes is also thought to be increased due to sores caused by the virus allowing HIV easier access to the bloodstream. Little attention, however, has been paid to HPV in the context of HIV risk.

To assess if a similar link exists with HPV, Jennifer Smith, PhD, and colleagues collected swabs for penile cell samples from HIV-negative men ages 18-24, and tested them for HPV DNA. The men were part of a study in Kenya that examined the impact of circumcision on HIV acquisition.

Of 2,168 subjects in this arm of the study, half were positive for current HPV infection. Over 42 months of follow-up, 5.8% of HPV-positive men contracted HIV, compared to 3.6% of those were tested negative for HPV at baseline. After controlling for variables such as circumcision, HSV-2 status, and sexual and social risk factors, the researchers found the probability of developing HIV in a study subject with HPV infection anywhere on his penis is 38%, a significantly higher risk than with HPV-negative men.

While it isn’t clear exactly why HPV may increase the risk of HIV acquisition, the authors point out that HPV-related lesions in males can result in skin trauma that may increase susceptibility by creating “portals of HIV entry.” They also conclude that in the absence of an effective HIV vaccine, being immunized against HPV may have a role in HIV control programs.

Jennifer S. Smith, Stephen Moses, Michael G. Hudgens, Corette B. Parker, Kawango Agot, Ian Maclean, Jeckoniah O. Ndinya-Achola, Peter J. F. Snijders, Chris J. L. M. Meijer, and Robert C. Bailey. Increased Risk of HIV Acquisition among Kenyan Men with Human Papillomavirus Infection. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2010. 201(11):1677–1685.