Background: A high prevalence of anal squamous intraepithelial lesions (ASIL) and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections were observed in HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) in the precART (combined antiretroviral therapy) era. The impact of cART on the natural history of HPV infection and ASIL is poorly documented.
Methods: Ninety-four HIV-infected MSM naive of cART were enrolled in a longitudinal study before starting cART. Patients were evaluated for anal cytology, histology and anal HPV DNA at baseline, month 12 and month 24 of cART. HPV DNA genotyping was performed by Linear Array assay. Anal cytologic samples were processed by the Thin Prep method.
Results: Analyses included 76 patients with at least two visits with available cytology. The median age was 39.4 years. The median (interquartile range) CD4 cell count was 301 cells/μl (242–339) at baseline and 545 cells/μl at month 24, when 93% of patients had plasma HIV–RNA 50 copies/ml or less. An abnormal result was observed in 45 of 76 patients at baseline (59%) with prevalent low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL) in 27 patients (36%) and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) in seven patients (9%) and in 36 of 69 patients assessed at month 24 (52%) with LSIL in 23 patients (33%) and HSIL in six patients (9%). At month 24, regression of the severity of lesions was observed in 44% of patients, whereas a lesion occurred in 37% of patients.
Conclusion: Our results show a high prevalence and incidence of ASIL in HIV-infected MSM despite immune restoration under cART. These data emphasize that HIV-positive MSM although receiving effective cART remain at high risk of anal squamous intra-epithelial lesions.