Objective: This study aimed to investigate the progression and persistence of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected women.
Methods: Study participants for this retrospective cohort study were 1,720 women who had LSIL as their first abnormal Pap smear. A comparison of the survival of LSIL without progression to high-grade SIL as progression-free time and the survival of SIL without clearance of the lesion as persistence of SIL was done for women of HIV-positive, HIV-negative, or unknown status using the Kaplan-Meier method. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model was applied to identify independent risk factors for disease progression or persistence.
Results: We found progression of LSIL not different between HIV groups but that persistence occurred more in HIV-positive women (63.8% vs 35.0%, p < .001). For the HIV group, antiretroviral therapy that was started before the first LSIL was associated with decreased risk for progression compared with no antiretroviral therapy (hazard ratio = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.54–0.81, p < .001). Antiretroviral therapy also improved clearance when corrected for excision treatment and age (hazard ratio = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.29–2.27, p < .001). Excision of LSIL reduced the risk of progression. In HIV-negative women, progression was reduced from 54.7% to 0.0% (p < .001), and from 46.9% to 6.4% in HIV-positive women (p < .001). Excision also reduced persistence in HIV-negative women from 39.5% to 7.1% (p = .001), but for HIV-positive women, the effect was smaller (from 66.3% to 45.5%, p < .001).
Conclusions: Antiretroviral treatment reduced the risk for progression and persistence of LSIL in HIV-infected women.