The impact of human immunodeficiency virus infection on cervical preinvasive and invasive neoplasia in South Africa

23 Jul 2013
Louis-Jacques van Bogaert

Objectives: Sub-Saharan Africa is at the epicentre of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic and has the highest incidence of invasive cervical cancer (ICC) in the world. Access to highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) in South Africa is still limited and provided only to nonpregnant women with a CD4 T-cell count <200 μg/L. We evaluated the relative distribution of cervical preinvasive and invasive neoplasia among HIV-infected (treated or not) and uninfected women in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

Methods: We compared the consecutive biopsy-diagnosed cervical pathology of 1,023 HIV-infected and 1,023 uninfected women. We investigated the influence of the CD4 T-cell count and of HAART on the relative distribution of cervical pathology.

Results: There was a significantly higher proportion of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)1 (P = 0.012) and 2 (P = 0.01) but a lower proportion of ICC (P = 0.015) among HIV-infected women. Patients on HAART had less CIN1 (P = 0.018), 2 (P = 0.18) and ICC (P = 0.019) that their untreated counterparts. The mean CD4 count was similar regardless of cervical lesions and HAART or no treatment.

Conclusion: Our data support the concept that HIV-infected women exhibit a higher rate of high-grade preinvasive lesions than uninfected controls. However, they have a significantly lower rate of ICC as compared with uninfected counterparts. The inclusion of ICC among acquired immune deficiency syndrome-defining illnesses is questionable.

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