AIDS (London, England) 31(15) 2069-2076 doi 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001580
Oral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been established as a pivotal strategy in HIV prevention. However, bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, are also highly prevalent. Although the presence of STI-related mucosal lesions is a known risk factor for HIV acquisition, the potential increase in risk associated with asymptomatic STIs is not completely understood. Recent data demonstrated higher T-cell activation is a risk factor for sexually acquired HIV-1 infection. We examined the effect of asymptomatic C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae anorectal infection on systemic immune activation, potentially increasing the risk of HIV acquisition.
We analyzed samples from participants of PrEP Brasil, a demonstration study of daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate HIV PrEP among healthy MSM, for T-cell activation by flow cytometry. We included 34 asymptomatic participants with anorectal swab for C. trachomatis and/or N. gonorrhoeae infection, whereas negative for other STIs, and 35 controls.
We found a higher frequency of human leukocyte antigen DRCD38 CD8 T cells (1.5 vs. 0.9%, P < 0.005) and with memory phenotype in the group with asymptomatic C. trachomatis and/or N. gonorrhoeae infection. Exhaustion and senescence markers were also significant higher in this group. No difference was observed in the soluble CD14 levels. CONCLUSION
Our findings suggest asymptomatic anorectal C. trachomatis and/or N. gonorrhoeae increase systemic immune activation, potentially increasing the risk of HIV acquisition. Regular screening and treatment of asymptomatic STIs should be explored as adjuvant tools for HIV prevention.