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A study presented at the Third International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment shows that infection with one or more strains of the human papillomavirus can dramatically increase HIV infection risks, in some cases more than tripling the chances of acquiring HIV, AIDSmap.com reports. A three-year study of HIV-negative gay men in Boston, Denver, New York City, and San Francisco showed that 81% of the men who became infected with HIV during the study period were coinfected with HPV; about half of the men who remained HIV-negative contracted HPV. The researchers determined that infection with one HIV subtype doubled HIV infection risk; two subtypes multiplied HIV risk by 2.4 times; and three or more subtypes more than tripled HIV risk.
Men infected with HPV who also became infected with HIV were much more likely to have abnormal anal squamous cells than those not coinfected with HIV, according to the study. These cells are commonly found in HPV-associated lesions in the anus, and researchers say these lesions may serve as portals for HIV to enter the body.
The study also showed that crystal methamphetamine use and unprotected anal sex significantly boosted the chances for both HPV and HIV infections. Crystal meth use multiplied HIV infection risks by 6.8 times, according to the study.
HPV has been linked to virtually all cases of cervical cancer in women and cases of anal cancer in both sexes. HPV also can cause genital or anal warts. Some studies have shown that about half of all sexually active gay men carry the virus and that as many as 90% of HIV-positive gay men are coinfected with HPV.