Women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at a higher risk of cervical neoplasia, most likely as a result of infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV), and should be vaccinated against it. Researchers wanted to know how common HR-HPV infection was in the region’s female lupus population and how many people had the HPV vaccine.

Data from the electronic health records EPIC for women with International Classification of Diseases-10 or International Classification of Diseases-9 billing codes for SLE seen between June 6, 2007, and May 1, 2017, were evaluated for this medical records review research. The Central Michigan University/Covenant Medical Center institutional review board authorized the study. Statistical studies for proportions included the Student t test, χ2, and Z test for proportions using SPSS v. 24 software.

A total of 1349 women with SLE were identified, with a mean age of 53, a race of 70.8% white, a race of 20.8% African American, and a smoking history of 49%. High-risk HPV testing in 195 people revealed that 16.9% were positive, with those who tested positive for HR-HPV being somewhat younger. When they compared the proportion of the regional female SLE cohort who tested positive for HR-HPV to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers estimated  Z=3.99, showing that HPV infection is considerably higher in the female SLE cohort. Only 16.0% of the 238 women eligible for an HPV vaccination were tested for HR-HPV, with 9 positive results and only 4.6% immunized.

Human papillomavirus infection is a severe health concern among SLE women, yet HPV testing and immunization rates remain low. In a high-risk demographic, efforts should be made to raise awareness about the necessity of HPV vaccination.