BALTIMORE — Stress and maladaptive coping mechanisms impacted HPV acquisition and persistence among girls and women, indicating a link between psychosocial stressors and immune suppression, according to recent study findings presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.
To evaluate the correlation between psychosocial stressors HPV persistence/infection, Anna-Barbara Moscicki, MD, chief of the division of adolescent and young adult medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, and colleagues enrolled women (n=333) aged 12 to 21 years in reoccurring 6 month examinations for HPV testing.
During the eleventh year of the study, as part of a stress substudy, participants were asked to complete a series of questions related to stress levels, coping with stress and perceived depression.
The researchers then compared survey results to whether participants exhibited HPV persistence or HPV infection clearance. The researchers defined HPV status as either an incident, in which participants were HPV-positive at the visit but not during the pre-visit, HPV persistent, in which participants were HPV-positive at both the visit and pre-visit or HPV negative during both visits.
“Women who reported self-destructive coping strategies, like drinking, smoking cigarettes or taking drugs when stressed, were more likely to develop an active HPV infection,” Moscicki said in a press release. “We also found that women who were depressed or perceived themselves to have lots of stress were more likely to have HPV persistence.”
According to study results, incident HPV was associated with overall negative coping and the self-destructive escape, while HPV persistence was additionally associated with depression and perceived stress.
“HPV infections are the cause of cervical cancers. But HPV infections are extremely common, and only the few infections that continue years beyond initial infection are at risk of developing cervical cancer,” Moscicki said in the release. “This is alarming since many of these women acquired their persistent infection as adolescents.” – by Bob Stott
Moscicki AB, et al. Abstract 2372.4. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting; April 30-May 3, 2016; Baltimore.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.