Cervicovaginal screening in women with HIV infection: a need for increased vigilance?
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OBJECTIVE: To review the current literature on cervical disease (dysplasia, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia [CIN] or carcinoma) in women with HIV infection and to assess recommendations for cervicovaginal screening in these patients. DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE and AIDSLINE were searched for relevant articles published in English or French between January 1987 and February 1993, abstracts presented at international AIDS conferences from 1989 to 1993 were evaluated, and pertinent agencies and organizations were consulted. STUDY SELECTION: A total of 92 reports of gynecologic disease in women with HIV infection were examined; 32 studies were retained that reported pertinent findings on cervical dysplasia, CIN or cervical carcinoma. DATA EXTRACTION: The following criteria were used to extract data: study design (descriptive v. comparative), sample size, heterogeneity of the study population, presence of immunodeficiency indicators (i.e., absolute CD4+ lymphocyte count) and presence of concomitant vaginal infections. Recommendations were assessed for their specific application to women with HIV infection. DATA SYNTHESIS: Data on the associations between stage of cervical disease and response to treatment at varying levels of CD4+ lymphocyte depletion were incomplete. Recommendations by official bodies for cervicovaginal screening in women with HIV infection differed little from recommendations for standard care of all women of reproductive age. CONCLUSIONS: The consequences of a missed or delayed diagnosis of cervical disease for women with HIV infection can be severe. Pending further research, more frequent cervicovaginal screening through Papanicolaou testing and colposcopy in women with HIV infection is warranted.
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