Introduction: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been strongly and consistently associated with cervical carcinoma and its cytologic precursors, such as squamous intraepithelial lesions. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with the aim of estimating the prevalence of cervical HPV infection in women attending a service of colposcopy in Catania, Eastern Sicily, Italy.
Methods: The prevalence of type-specific HPV was examined in women with negative colposcopic results and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grades 1, 2, or 3, with the aim of providing some cross-sectional figures on the local epidemiology of HPV infection.
Results: Human papillomavirus DNA was found in 62.1% of women with negative colposcopic results and in 73.2% with positive colposcopic results. Among high-risk types, a predominance of HPV-16 (51.5% of infected women) was shown followed by HPV-56 (29.7%). An age-related pattern was described with a peak in HPV prevalence among women younger than 25 years, followed by the expected decline in prevalence and a second characteristic peak in the perimenopausal or postmenopausal years, useful to design future control strategies.
Conclusions: The age-related pattern of HPV prevalence and the presence of uncommon high-risk genotypes and their role in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer need to be addressed by specific epidemiologic studies to design large-scale screening programs and multivalent vaccine strategies.
- Human papillomavirus
- Risk factors
- Multiple genotypes
- Cross-sectional study
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