BackgroundHuman papillomavirus vaccines prevent human papillomavirus infection and cervical precancers. The impact of vaccinating women with a current infection or after treatment for an human papillomavirus-associated lesion is not fully understood.
ObjectivesTo determine whether human papillomavirus-16/18 vaccination influences the outcome of infections present at vaccination and the rate of infection and disease after treatment of lesions.
Study designWe included 1711 women (18-25 years) with carcinogenic human papillomavirus infection and 311 women of similar age who underwent treatment for cervical precancer and who participated in a community-based trial of the AS04-adjuvanted human papillomavirus-16/18 virus-like particle vaccine. Participants were randomized (human papillomavirus or hepatitis A vaccine) and offered 3 vaccinations over 6 months. Follow-up included annual visits (more frequently if clinically indicated), referral to colposcopy of high-grade and persistent low-grade lesions, treatment by loop electrosurgical excisional procedure when clinically indicated, and cytologic and virologic follow-up after treatment. Among women with human papillomavirus infection at the time of vaccination, we considered type-specific viral clearance, and development of cytologic (squamous intraepithelial lesions) and histologic (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) lesions. Among treated women, we considered single-time and persistent human papillomavirus infection, squamous intraepithelial lesions, and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or greater. Outcomes associated with infections absent before treatment also were evaluated. Infection-level analyses were performed and vaccine efficacy estimated.
ResultsMedian follow-up was 56.7 months (women with human papillomavirus infection) and 27.3 months (treated women). There was no evidence of vaccine efficacy to increase clearance of human papillomavirus infections or decrease incidence of cytologic/histologic abnormalities associated with human papillomavirus types present at enrollment. Vaccine efficacy for human papillomavirus 16/18 clearance and against human papillomavirus 16/18 progression from infection to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or greater were -5.4% (95% confidence interval -19,10) and 0.3% (95% confidence interval -69,41), respectively. Among treated women, 34.1% had oncogenic infection and 1.6% had cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or greater detected after treatment, respectively, and of these 69.8% and 20.0% were the result of new infections. We observed no significant effect of vaccination on rates of infection/lesions after treatment. Vaccine efficacy estimates for human papillomavirus 16/18 associated persistent infection and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or greater after treatment were 34.7% (95% confidence interval -131, 82) and -211% (95% confidence interval -2901, 68), respectively. We observed evidence for a partial and nonsignificant protective effect of vaccination against new infections absent before treatment. For incident human papillomavirus 16/18, human papillomavirus 31/33/45, and oncogenic human papillomavirus infections post-treatment, vaccine efficacy estimates were 57.9% (95% confidence interval -43, 88), 72.9% (95% confidence interval 29, 90), and 36.7% (95% confidence interval 1.5, 59), respectively.
ConclusionWe find no evidence for a vaccine effect on the fate of detectable human papillomavirus infections. We show that vaccination does not protect against infections/lesions after treatment. Evaluation of vaccine protection against new infections after treatment and resultant lesions warrants further consideration in future studies.