Background Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)+ patients have an increased risk of anogenital warts. High-risk (HR) human papillomaviruses (HPVs), especially types 16 and 18, are major risk factors for precancerous and cancerous lesions of the anogenital tract, while low-risk (LR) HPVs are associated with benign lesions. Cure of genital warts with ablative techniques, surgical excision, podophyllotoxin or trichloroacetic acid is frequently difficult. Treatment with imiquimod cream showed a total clearance of external genital or perianal warts in about 50% of immunocompetent subjects. However, total clearance was reduced in HIV+ subjects not treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Objectives To assess clinically and by monitoring HPV content the efficacy of 5% topical imiquimod to treat anogenital warts in HIV+ subjects with at least partially restored immune functions.
Methods Fifty HIV+ patients successfully treated with HAART (total CD4+ cells ≥ 200 cells mm−3 and plasma HIV RNA load < 104 copies mL−1) with anogenital warts were included. Imiquimod 5% cream was applied on external genital or perianal warts three times weekly for up to 16 weeks. Warts were tested at entry and after treatment for human LR- and HR-HPV DNA.
Results Total wart clearance was observed in 16 of 50 (32%) patients at week 16. At enrolment, HPV DNA was present in more than 90% of lesions with a majority of lesions co-infected by HR- and LR-HPV. At study end, the HPV load decreased or became undetectable in 40% of cases studied.
Conclusions Imiquimod 5% cream did not show safety concerns and is suitable for use in HIV+ subjects with anogenital warts and successful HAART treatment.