HPV Vaccine Deemed Safe in Women with HIV

June 5, 2014
Jacquelyn Gray

A recent study has determined the immune systems of women with HIV react positively to the human papillomavirus vaccine.

A recent study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases has determined the immune systems of women with HIV react positively to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Erna Milunka Kojic and researchers from Brown University administered the Gardisil HPV vaccine in 319 HIV-infected women aged 13-45 years in the US, Brazil, and South Africa. In order to determine the effect of Gardisil on the women’s immune systems, the vaccine was administered over a 28-week period.

Additionally, the women were grouped by their CD4 cell count, which determined the strength of their immune systems. The 3 groups were defined as >350 cells/µL (stratum A), 201—350 cells/µL (stratum B), and ≤200 cells/µL (stratum C).

Since Gardisil protects against 4 HPV types, the researchers measured 4 rates of antibody buildup, or seroconversion, in each group. “Seroconversion in at least 70% of patients for each HPV type” was deemed the success threshold by the investigators.

According to the study authors, “seroconversion proportions at week 28 among women in CD4 stratum A were 96%, 98%, 99%, and 91% for HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18, respectively; in stratum B, 100%, 98%, 98%, and 85%; and in stratum C, 84%, 92%, 93%,and 75% for each type, respectively.”

Understandably, women in stratum C “with HIV RNA load >10,000 copies/mL and/or CD4 count <200 cells/µL had lower rates of seroconversion rates,” the authors wrote. Nevertheless, the researchers asserted that stratum C’s seroconversion rate was still high enough to benefit from vaccination.

While the specific benefits of administering Gardisil in HIV patients could not be ascertained in the study, Kojic believes it showcased the safety of the HPV vaccine.

“Comparing vaccine reactions, this is a very safe vaccine,” Kojic said in a statement. “It doesn’t have any systemic side effects among these women who are already taking medicine for other conditions.”