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Screening strategies for the detection of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions in women living with HIV.



HIV-infected women (WLHIV) have more than 10-fold higher risk for squamous cell cancer of the anus. Experts suggest cytology-based strategies developed for cervical cancer screening may prevent anal cancer by detecting anal cytologic or histological high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (hHSIL) for treatment. Currently, there is no consensus on anal-hHSIL screening strategies for WLHIV.


Between 2014 and 2016, 276 WLHIV were recruited at 12 US AIDS Malignancy Consortium clinical trials sites to evaluate hHSIL prevalence and (test) screening strategies.


Participants completed detailed questionnaire, underwent anal assessments including high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing using hrHPV-Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2) and hrHPV-APTIMA, anal cytology, and concurrent high-resolution anoscopy. Screening test characteristics for predicting hHSIL validated by central review of histologic diagnosis were estimated sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and false-omission rate. Paired analyses compared sensitivity and specificity for hrHPV single tests to anal cytology alone.


83% (229/276) of enrolled WLHIV had complete anal assessment data and were included in this analysis. Mean age was 50, 62% black and 60 (26%) had hHSIL. Anal cyotology (>atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance), hrHPV-HC2, and hrHPV-APTIMA sensitivity estimates were similarly high (83, 77, and 75%, respectively, P values > 0.2). Specificity was higher for both hrHPV-APTIMA and hrHPV-HC2 compared with anal cytology (67 vs. 50%, P < 0.001) and (61 vs. 50%, P = 0.020), respectively.


Anal hrHPV testing demonstrated similar sensitivity for anal cytology (>atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance) to predict anal hHSIL. Among tests with similar sensitivity, the specificity was significantly higher for hrHPV-APTIMA and hrHPV-HC2. Thus, anal hrHPV testing may be an important alternative strategy to anal cytology for anal hHSIL screening among WLHIV.

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