A group of 25 controls and 30 women with lesions of the cervix associated with papillomavirus were studied prospectively by colposcopy and cytology for up to two years to investigate the relation between human papillomavirus (HPV) infection of the cervix and resolution or progression of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). We found that the viral changes were transient and that active infection, as judged by repeated colposcopic and cytological examination, resolved in 83% of the patients. Resolution or persistence of the viral infection did not appear to affect the development of the CIN lesion. The proportion of CIN lesions that resolved and persisted were the same for the study group and the controls. Possible reactivation of latent papillomavirus was noted in three control group patients. Our findings indicate that changes in the cervix associated with papillomavirus should not influence the clinical management or follow up of patients with CIN.
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