Prevalence of HPV16 High Among HIV-Positive Men Having Sex With Men

HPV, human papillomavirus
HPV, human papillomavirus
Study confirms HPV16 as an important determinant of high-grade lesions and supports its place as a priority for anal cancer prevention.

According to research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV), specifically HPV16, was ubiquitously high among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM).

As part of a multicenter, prospective study, HIV-positive MSM, age ≥ 35 years being treated at one of 6 infectious disease units across France from December 2014 to June 2016, were assessed for prevalence and risk factors for anal HPV and high-risk HPV.

Participants received anal swabs for HPV and cytology, plus high-resolution anoscopy. Lesion grade, HPV genotype (HPV 16, 18, 12, and other high-risk HPV) were determined, and detailed histories of tobacco use, sexual habits, and AIDS-related conditions were collected.  

The prevalence of HPV16 among 490 participants was 29% and 70% for high-risk HPV, and did not differ significantly by age, sexual behavior, or markers for HIV or immune deficiency. Smoking was a weak predictor of high-risk HPV.

HPV16 prevalence increased with anal diagnosis severity, rising from 19% to 63% in those with negative and high-grade lesions, respectively. Conversely, the presence of non-16 high-risk HPV was less prevalent in high-grade compared with negative diagnoses (37% vs 64%, respectively).

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There exists a strong link between HPV16 and anal cancer and the data presented here show an increasing prevalence according to anal diagnosis severity. HPV16 is more “strongly associated with high-grade anal lesions than other [high-risk] HPV types” and should be “a target for anal cancer prevention,” concluded the researchers.


Combes JD, Heard I, Poizot-Martin I, et al. ANRS EP57 APACHES Study group. Prevalence and risk factors for anal human papillomavirus infection in HIV-positive men having sex with men [published online January 31, 2017]. J Infect Dis. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy059