This study aimed to provide a population-based estimate of human papillomavirus (HPV) seropositivity for women in a rural African context and to evaluate the impact of HPV serostatus on subsequent acquisition of HIV outside a clinical setting.
A random sample of women participating in a longitudinal, population-based HIV survey combined with a case-control study.
Blood samples of women participating in a single round of population-based HIV surveillance (N = 1049) in a rural South African population were used to measure vaccine-preventable HPV seropositivity (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) in the general population in 2010. Using results from the repeat HIV surveys, a case-control analysis was then performed comparing HPV sero-status in samples taken from HIV sero-converting women (prior to infection with HIV) against samples from HIV-uninfected, sexually-active controls matched 1:1 according to 5-year age band (377:377). Unconditional multivariable logistic regression with multiple imputations was used to control for sociodemographic and behavioral variables associated with HIV acquisition.
Human papillomavirus seropositivity in the population-based sample of women was 20.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 18.3–23.4), and HIV prevalence was 27.6% (95% CI, 24.9–30.4). In the case-control analysis, allowing for variables known to be associated with HIV incidence, HPV seropositivity was associated with nearly 2.5 times the odds of subsequent acquisition of HIV (adjusted odds ratio, 2.33 [95% CI, 1.61–3.39]; P < 0.001).
These results suggest that HPV vaccination before or soon after sexual debut could lower HIV infection risk. Randomized trials that quantify the impact of HPV vaccination in girls on the risk of acquiring HIV are urgently required.