Epidemiology of human papillomavirus infection in Greek asymptomatic women

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In an attempt to estimate the prevalence of human papilloma virus (HPV) positivity among asymptomatic, cytologically normal Greek women, and the possible associations between HPV infection and other demographic, sexual, behavioural and sociological parameters, we undertook an epidemiological study of 226 clinically normal women from an outpatient gynaecological clinic in Northern Greece. The polymerase chain reaction was used for detection of HPV DNA and dot blot hybridization analysis for HPV typing (only for the high-risk types 16 and 18). Eighty-two of the 226 women examined (36.3%) were positive for HPV DNA, 6.6% (15/226) were positive for HPV-16 DNA and only 1.3% (3/226) were positive for HPV-18 DNA. From all epidemiological correlates, age and residence showed a negative correlation with risk of HPV infection, whereas use of contraceptive intrauterine device, class II or III result of the last Papanicolaou cytological examination, history of painful inflammatory disease of inner genitals and frequent washing of the genital area, particularly during the menstrual period, were positively correlated with increased risk of HPV infection. No association was found between HPV DNA positivity and other well-known risk factors for cervical cancer, confirming the observations of other authors that sexual behaviour, a significant risk factor for cervical cancer, is not inevitably correlated with risk of HPV infection.

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