Background and aim

This cross-sectional study investigated the prevalence and risk factors of high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, especially types 16 and 18, and cervical neoplasia in female Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients.


From July 2014 to January 2017, sexually active, female, Chinese IBD patients (21–60 years) and age-matched controls underwent cervical ThinPrep cytology testing (TCT) and high-risk HPV-DNA detection, and completed questionnaires about awareness of cervical cancer and HPV. Cervical dysplasia was categorized as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 1, 2 and 3.


Of 124 IBD patients (30 ulcerative colitis and 94 Crohn’s disease), 17 (13.7%) had high-risk HPV among whom 9 (7.3%) had HPV 16/18 infection and 4 (3.2%) had cervical CIN (3 CIN 3, 1 CIN 1) by pathology. Among 372 controls, 33 (8.9%) had high-risk HPV and only 1 (0.3%) had HPV 16 infection. Cervical TCT detected atypical squamous cells of unknown significance in one control; no control had CIN. The HPV 16/18 infection rate and CIN prevalence were significantly higher in IBD patients than controls (both P < 0.001). The HPV-infection rate was higher in patients administered methotrexate [P = 0.005, odds ratio (95% confidence interval) 4.76 (1.471–15.402)] or more than two immunosuppressants [P = 0.013, odds ratio (95% confidence interval) 3.64 (1.255–10.562)]. Thiopurine, steroid, infliximab and disease behavior/location were not associated with HPV infection. Only 29.3% of patients had undergone cervical-cancer screening. Awareness of HPV infection and HPV-related cervical cancer was poor (28.2%).


Female IBD patients are at increased risk of high-risk HPV infection and cervical neoplasia, which may be associated with immunosuppressants. Education and routine follow-up with HPV-DNA testing and TCT are recommended, especially in female Chinese IBD patients.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact [email protected]