Association between Free Testosterone Levels and Anal Human Papillomavirus Types 16/18 Infections in a Cohort of MSM.

Published: March 20, 2015

Hsu HK, Brown TT, Li X, Young S, Cranston RD, D’Souza G, Jacobson LP, Martínez-Maza O, Seaberg EC, Margolick JB, Jenkins FJ, Moran MG, Chua K, Bolan RK, Detels R, Wiley DJ.
Original Article:



Human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 cause invasive cervical cancer and most invasive anal cancers (IACs). Overall, IAC rates are highest among men who have sex with men (MSM), especially MSM with HIV infection. Testosterone is prescribed for men showing hypogonadism and HIV-related wasting. While there are direct and indirect physiological effects of testosterone in males, its role in anal HPV16/18 infections in men is unknown.


Free testosterone (FT) was measured in serum from 340 Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) participants who were tested for anal HPV16/18-DNA approximately 36 months later. The effect of log10-transformed current FT level on anal HPV16/18 prevalence was modeled using Poisson regression with robust error variance. Multivariate models controlled for other HPV types, cumulative years of exogenous testosterone use, race, age, lifetime number of receptive anal intercourse partnerships, body mass index, tobacco smoking, HIV-infection and CD4+ T-cell counts among HIV-infected, and blood draw timing.


Participants were, on average, 60 (+5.4) years of age, White (86%), and HIV-uninfected (56%); Twenty-four percent tested positive for anal HPV16 and/or 18-DNA (HPV16 prevalence=17.1%, HPV18=9.1%). In adjusted analysis, each half-log10 increase of FT was associated with a 1.9-fold (95% Confidence Interval: 1.11, 3.24) higher HPV16/18 prevalence. Additionally, other Group 1 high-risk HPVs were associated with a 1.56-fold (1.03, 2.37) higher HPV16/18 prevalence. Traditional risk factors for HPV16/18 infection (age, tobacco smoking; lifetime number of sexual partners, including the number of receptive anal intercourse partnerships within 24 months preceding HPV testing) were poorly correlated with one another and not statistically significantly associated with higher prevalence of HPV16/18 infection in unadjusted and adjusted analyses.


Higher free testosterone was associated with increased HPV16/18 prevalence measured approximately three years later, independent of sexual behavior and other potential confounders. The mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear and warrant further study.

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