Study Identifies Individual HPV Types Linked to HIV Infection

Researchers investigated the impact of individual types of human papilloma virus on HIV acquisition.

A new study has identified individual types of human papilloma virus (HPV) that may be linked to a greater risk of acquiring HIV infection.

Previous research has indicated that HPV, in general, may be linked to HIV infection; however, the current study delves further by investigating the impact of individual types of HPV on HIV acquisition. HPV is the most prevalent sexually-transmitted infection worldwide among all sexually active adults and affects approximately 50% of HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM), according to the study, which was published in PLOS One.

The study investigated the association between HPV types and incident HIV infection among 600 participants, including MSM and transgender women in Peru. The researchers followed 2 separate groups over a 2-year period to track HIV incidence: 1 with genital warts and 1 without.

At baseline, study participants completed a computerized, self-administered questionnaire on sexual behavior and HPV knowledge, and underwent a physical exam including anogenital swabs for HPV DNA and HIV testing. Follow-up visits included questionnaires and HIV testing.

Of 571 individuals who completed at least 2 study visits, 73 acquired HIV within 2 years, which translates to a 6% HIV incidence rate, according to the study. The researchers concluded that participants who had any HPV type, more than 1 HPV type, or high-risk HPV were more likely to have acquired HIV. Specifically, the study found that HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 52, and 58 were all linked to HIV.

“Although most studies have shown a general link between HPV and HIV co-infection, our findings illustrate the strong relationship between individual HPV types and HIV infection,” lead author Brandon Brown, an HIV researcher and associate professor in the UCR School of Medicine, said in a press release about the findings. “Some HPV types are more linked to cancer and others to warts. This further illustrates the potential utility of the HPV vaccine for men who have sex with men and trans women, not only for HPV prevention but also possibly for HIV prevention.”

Overall, the researchers concluded that there is a strong relationship between individual HPV types and HIV infection, which supports other research suggesting that vaccination against HPV may have a protective effect against HIV among this population.

“Early vaccination paired with robust HIV prevention strategies can prevent both HPV-related outcomes and incident HIV infection,” the researchers wrote.

References

Brown B, Marg L, Leon S. The relationship between anogenital HPV types and incident HIV infection among men who have sex with men and transgender women in Lima, Peru: Findings from a prospective cohort study. PLOS One. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204996

Study links individual HPV types to HIV infection [news release]. University of California’s website. https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2018/10/04/study-links-individual-hpv-types-hiv-infection. Accessed October 8, 2018.