Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine can protect women with HIV

November / December 2012 | Volume 11, Issue 6

Women with HIV can benefit from receiving a vaccine against another sexually transmitted pathogen, the human papilloma virus (HPV), although they commonly do not receive the inoculation, according to an NIH-funded study.

young woman holding up sleeve receives shot in her upper arm from clinical worker off camera
Photo by Ryan Youngblood/GAVI Alliance

Acording to an NIH-funded study, women with HIV
can benefit from the HPV vaccine. The non-profit
GAVI Alliance plans to bring HPV vaccines to health
authorities in developing countries at greatly reduced
price, reaching 28 million women and girls by 2020.

The vaccine, which protects against four common types of HPV, is designed to trigger an immune response before exposure to the virus, which typically spreads without immediate symptoms.

"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," said Dr. Jessica A. Kahn, of the University of Cincinnati, who led the study. "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."

The study, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, found nearly three-quarters of the women had an existing HPV infection, but only about half tested positive for a high-risk HPV type that causes cervical cancer or genital warts.

Cervical cancer disproportionately arises in developing countries, where it is the most common cause of cancer deaths in women, killing more than 200,000 each year and on the rise. To counteract this, the nonprofit GAVI Alliance plans to bring HPV vaccines to health authorities in developing countries at greatly reduced price, reaching 28 million women and girls by 2020.

Women in developing countries are especially vulnerable to cervical cancer, given the lack of access to care and high rates of HIV infection, which increases the risk for cancer.

"Cervical cancer screening for sexually active young women is an important clinical priority, but our findings suggest it is especially so for women at risk of HIV," said study co-author Dr. Bill G. Kapogiannis of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

NIH agencies also supporting the study were the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Cancer Institute and National Center for Research Resources.

More Information

To view Adobe PDF files, download current, free accessible plug-ins from Adobe's website.

Footer