Frequency of high-grade squamous cervical lesions among women over age 65 years living with HIV

L. Stewart Massad, Xianhong Xie, Howard L. Minkoff, Katherine G. Michel, Gypsyamber D'Souza, Chia Ching Wang, Deborah Konkle-Parker, Igho Ofotokun, Margaret A. Fischl, Lisa Rahangdale, Howard D. Strickler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Current US cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend screening cessation at the age of 65 years provided women have adequate previous screening and no history of precancer. Women living with HIV are at higher risk of cervical cancer than women living without HIV. Furthermore, limited data exists to quantify the risk of cervical cancer among women who otherwise would qualify for screening cessation. Objective: This study aimed to determine whether guidelines recommending women to discontinue cervical cancer screening at the age of 65 years are appropriate for women living with HIV. Study Design: Semiannual Papanicolaou testing was performed as part of surveillance visits in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Launched in October 1994, the Women's Interagency HIV Study is a federally funded US multisite cohort study that has enrolled 3678 women living with HIV and 1304 women living without HIV; we included data throughout September 2019 onward. Conventional Papanicolaou tests were collected at scheduled 6-month visits and read centrally according to the 1991 Bethesda System criteria. Results were analyzed among women at least 65 years of age. The primary endpoint was high-grade cytology, including high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions; atypical glandular cells; atypical squamous cells, cannot exclude high-grade lesions; and malignant cytology. Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used to compare the continuous variables, and Chi-square tests or the Fisher exact tests were used to compare the categorical variables. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to calculate the cumulative incidence. Poisson regression was used to compare 2 incidence rates. Results: Of 169 eligible women (121 women living with HIV and 48 women living without HIV) who contributed 678.4 person-years of observation after reaching the age of 65 years, 2.2% had high-grade cytologic abnormalities. However, no cancer was found. Furthermore, 20 women had previous precancer results, and 74 women had abnormal Papanicolaou test results in the previous decade. Among 50 women (38 women living with HIV and 12 women living without HIV) with a previous hysterectomy and no history of cervical precancer, the cumulative incidence rates of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions were 0.6 (95% confidence interval, 0.0–3.2) per 100 person-years for women living with HIV and 0.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.0–8.1) per 100 person-years for women living without HIV (P=.61). Only 48 women (27 women living with HIV and 21 women living without HIV) had cervices and met the current guidelines to discontinue screening; their risk of experiencing high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions was 2.2 (95% confidence interval, 0.6–5.5) per 100 person-years overall and did not vary by HIV status (2.3 [95% confidence interval, 0.5–6.8] per 100 person-years for women living with HIV and 1.8 [95% confidence interval, 0.0–9.8] per 100 person-years for women living without HIV; P=.81). Conclusion: Most women living with HIV do not meet the criteria for cervical cancer screening cessation and will need to continue screening over the age of 65 years; however, women who meet the criteria for screening cessation have risks of high-grade squamous lesions similar to women living without HIV and may choose to discontinue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411.e1-411.e7
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Papanicolaou test
  • cervical cancer prevention
  • women living with HIV


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