HPV Vaccine May Benefit HIV-Infected Women

Source: NIH News


New research suggests the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may offer some benefit to young women with HIV, even if they have already been exposed to HPV. The study noted that more than 45 percent of sexually active young women with HIV have not been exposed to the most common high-risk strains of HPV. “Health care providers may hesitate to recommend HPV vaccines after a girl starts having sex,” said study first author Dr. Jessica Kahn of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “However, our results show that for a significant number of young women, HPV vaccine can still offer benefits. This is especially important in light of their HIV status, which can make them even more vulnerable to HPV’s effects.” The researchers, whose findings appear in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, tested blood and tissue samples from nearly 100 HIV-positive women between the ages of 16 and 23 years who were given an initial vaccination for HPV. The results indicate that 75 percent of the young women had an existing HPV infection with at least one type, with 54 percent testing positive for a high-risk type. However, the researchers also found that nearly 50 percent of the women had no existing infection with or exposure to HPV-16 or HPV-18, the two strains that cause nearly 70 percent of cervical cancers. “Even among women who test positive for one type of HPV, the vaccine may effectively prevent infection with others—especially high-risk forms that cause cancer,” Dr. Kahn said. “It’s important that doctors don’t withhold the vaccine in these cases, thinking that it’s too late for a vaccine to be effective.”

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