Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundUnderstanding the natural history of anal high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) infection is key for designing anal cancer prevention programmes but has not been systematically characterised.MethodsWe reanalysed data from 34 studies with 16 164 individuals in six risk groups defined by HIV status, gender, and male sexuality: men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV (LWH) [MSMLWH], HIV-negative MSM, women LWH (WLWH), HIV-negative women, men who have sex with women (MSW) LWH (MSWLWH), and HIV-negative MSW. We used Markov models to estimate incidence and clearance of 13 hrHPV types and their determinants.ResultsHPV16 had the highest incidence:clearance ratio of the hrHPV types. MSMLWH had highest hrHPV incidence (e.g. 15.5% newly HPV16-infected within two years), followed by HIV-negative MSM (7.5%), WLWH (6.6%), HIV-negative women (2.9%), MSWLWH (1.7%), and HIV-negative MSW (0.7%). Determinants of HPV16 incidence included HIV status and number of sexual partners for MSM, women, and MSW, and anal sex behaviour for MSM only. HPV16 clearance was lower for people LWH (PLWH), and lower for prevalent than incident infection. Among MSM, increasing age was associated with lower clearance of prevalent, but not incident, HPV16 infection.ConclusionsThis robust and unifying analysis of anal hrHPV natural history is essential to designing and predicting the impact of HPV vaccination and HPV-based screening programmes on anal cancer prevention, particularly in MSM and PLWH. Importantly, it demonstrates the higher carcinogenic potential of longstanding anal prevalent hrHPV infection than more recent incident infection.

Original publication





Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Publication Date



Early Detection, Prevention and Infections Branch, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO), Lyon, France.