Risk of abnormal cervical cytology in HIV-infected women testing positive for both human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr virus in genital tract specimens

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Cancer causes & control : CCC


PURPOSE: Although infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is a prerequisite for cervical cancer development, HPV infection is not sufficient to promote cancer in the majority of infected women. We tested the hypothesis that human herpesviruses might cooperate with HPV to promote the development of cervical dysplasia, an early indicator of cervical cancer development. METHODS: This study used archived specimens from a cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seropositive women seeking gynecological care at the Medical Center of New Orleans, Louisiana. Viral DNA was detected by PCR amplification and risk of abnormal cervical cytology was determined in relation to virus test results. RESULTS: Consensus human herpesvirus PCR with herpes speciation by restriction endonuclease digestion revealed Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) to be the most prevalent herpesvirus in cervicovaginal lavage specimens. Further analysis using an EBV-specific PCR assay and cervical swab specimens demonstrated an approximately fourfold increased risk of abnormal cervical cytology in women testing positive for cervical EBV and high-risk HPV compared to women testing positive for high-risk HPV alone. This relationship was independent of markers of advancing HIV disease. CONCLUSION: Cervical shedding of EBV appears to predict a greater risk of cervical dysplasia in HIV-infected women with a high-risk HPV infection.

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