Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Objectives: To quantify genital tract HIV-1 RNA (GT-HIV RNA) shedding among women living with HIV (WLHIV) before and after cryotherapy treatment for visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) positive cervical lesions.

Methods:We conducted a prospective, longitudinal study of 39 WLHIV on antiretroviral treatment (ART) undergoing cryotherapy for VIA positive lesions in Kenya from 2015-2017. Eligibility for cryotherapy were lesions that covered

Results: Detectable GT-HIV RNA was found in 4/39 (10%) participants pre-cryotherapy, 1/30 (3.3%) and 3/26 (11.5%) participants at the 2- and 8-weeks post-cryotherapy, respectively. Only 6/39 (13%) participants had detectable GT-HIV RNA at any point during the study. 2/6 had recent high PVL (range: 49,124-150,695 copies/mL) within 3 months of starting the study and detectable GT-HIV RNA at follow-up visits. 4/6 had undetectable recent PVL within 3-11 months of the study but each had detectable GT-HIV RNA pre-cryotherapy. The mean GT-HIV RNA among 4/39 WLHIV with shedding at pre-cryotherapy was 43,109 (range: 21,812-73,625) copies/mL. Only one participant had GT-HIV RNA (73,125 copies/mL) at 2-weeks post-cryotherapy (N=30); she had no shedding pre-cryotherapy but had a PVL of 49,124 copies/mL 3 months before the study. The mean GT-HIV RNA at 8-weeks post-cryotherapy (N=26) was 44,668 (range: 21,256-64,812) copies/mL among three participants. One of the 3 had high PVL of 150,695 copies/mL 3 months prior to cryotherapy while 2/3 had GT-HIV RNA shedding at baseline despite undetectable most recent PVL. However, their undetectable PVL was 8-11 months prior to cryotherapy which may not accurately reflect PVL at baseline.

Conclusions: The majority of GT-HIV RNA shedding was detected before cryotherapy. This finding suggests that cryotherapy was not the primary cause of GT-HIV RNA shedding. Non-adherence to ART might have played a major role. The small sample size and failure to perform paired GT-HIV RNA and PVL tests at each visit are limitations of the study. Further research on the effect of cryotherapy on GT-HIV RNA shedding in ART non-adherent compared to ART-adherent WLHIV is needed.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology