Short item Published on September 27, 2018

Are associations between HIV and HPV transmission due to behavioural confounding or biological effects?

HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV) are two heavy hitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Meta-analyses of the association between HPV prevalence and HIV acquisition and the association between HIV prevalence and new HPV detection have estimated a two-fold increased risk in both directions, after adjusting for individual-level (sexual behavioural) factors. The studies argue that biological mechanisms may be responsible for these increased risks, but they also concur that residual confounding due to behaviour at the sexual network level cannot be ruled out. We used an individual based model to shed some light on the matter.