BACKGROUND - Prevalence estimates of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) among HIV-infected women in India have been based on cervical cytology, which may have underestimated true disease burden. We sought to better establish prevalence estimates and evaluate risk factors of CIN among HIV-infected women in Pune, India using colposcopy and histopathology as diagnostic tools.
METHODOLOGY - Previously unscreened, non-pregnant HIV-infected women underwent cervical cancer screening evaluation including standardized diagnostic colposcopy by a gynecologist. Histopathologic confirmation was conducted among consenting women with clinical suspicion of CIN. The prevalence of CIN was evaluated by a composite diagnosis based on colposcopy and histopathology results. Multivariable ordinal logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine independent predictors of increasing severity of CIN.
RESULTS - The median age of the n = 303 enrolled HIV-infected women was 30 years (interquartile range, 27-34). A majority of the participants were widowed or separated (187/303, 61.7%), more than one-third (114/302, 37.7%) were not educated beyond primary school, and nearly two-thirds (196/301, 64.7%) had a family per capita income of <1,000 Indian Rupees ( approximately US$22) per month. Cervical high-risk HPV-DNA was detected in 41.7% (124/297) of participants. The composite colposcopic-histopathologic diagnoses revealed no evidence of CIN in 220 out of 303 (72.6%) women, CIN1 in 33/303 (10.9%), CIN2 in 31/303 (10.2%), CIN3 in 18/303 (5.9%) and 1 (0.3%) woman was diagnosed with ICC. Thus, over a quarter of the participants [83/303: 27.7% (95% CI: 22.7-33.1)] had > or =CIN1 lesions and a sixth [50/303: 16.5% (95% CI: 12.2-21.9)] had evidence of advanced (> or =CIN2) neoplastic disease. The independent predictors of increasing severity of CIN as revealed by a proportional odds model using multivariable ordinal logistic regression included (i) currently receiving antiretroviral therapy [adjusted odds ratios (aOR): 2.24 (1.17, 4.26), p = 0.01] and (ii) presence of cervical high-risk HPV-DNA [aOR: 1.93 (1.13, 3.28), p = 0.02].
CONCLUSIONS - HIV-infected women in Pune, India have a substantial burden of cervical precancerous lesions, which may progress to invasive cervical cancer unless appropriately detected and treated. Increased attention should focus on recognizing and addressing this entirely preventable cancer among HIV-infected women, especially in the context of increasing longevity due to antiretroviral therapy.