BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer is caused by oncogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) and is one of the most common malignancies in women living in sub-Saharan Africa. Women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have a higher incidence of cervical cancer, but the full impact on HPV detection is not well understood, and associations of biological and behavioral factors with oncogenic HPV detection have not been fully examined. Therefore, a study was initiated to investigate factors that are associated with oncogenic HPV detection in Kenyan women. METHODS: Women without cervical dysplasia were enrolled in a longitudinal study. Data from enrollment are presented as a cross-sectional analysis. Demographic and behavioral data was collected, and HPV typing was performed on cervical swabs. HIV-uninfected women (n = 105) and HIV-infected women (n = 115) were compared for demographic and behavioral characteristics using t-tests, Chi-square tests, Wilcoxon sum rank tests or Fisher's exact tests, and for HPV detection using logistic regression or negative binomial models adjusted for demographic and behavioral characteristics using SAS 9.4 software. RESULTS: Compared to HIV-uninfected women, HIV-infected women were older, had more lifetime sexual partners, were less likely to be married, were more likely to regularly use condoms, and were more likely to have detection of HPV 16, other oncogenic HPV types, and multiple oncogenic types. In addition to HIV, more lifetime sexual partners was associated with a higher number of oncogenic HPV types (aIRR 1.007, 95% CI 1.007-1.012). Greater travel distance to the clinic was associated with increased HPV detection (aOR for detection of > /= 2 HPV types: 3.212, 95% CI 1.206-8.552). Older age (aOR for HPV 16 detection: 0.871, 95% CI 0.764-0.993) and more lifetime pregnancies (aOR for detection of oncogenic HPV types: 0.706, 95% CI, 0.565-0.883) were associated with reduced detection. CONCLUSION: HIV infection, more lifetime sexual partners, and greater distance to health-care were associated with a higher risk of oncogenic HPV detection, in spite of ART use in those who were HIV-infected. Counseling of women about sexual practices, improved access to health-care facilities, and vaccination against HPV are all potentially important in reducing oncogenic HPV infections.