Prevalence of Human Papillomavirus in Women Without Cervical Cancer: A Population-based Study in Eastern India

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Despite the high incidence of cervical cancer, population-based data on prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) are limited in India. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of any HPV type and type-specific prevalence of HPV 16/18 in women without cervical cancer. HPV viral load was measured and correlated with cytologic abnormalities of the cervix. A total of 2501 women between 25 and 65 years of age and without cervical cancer were screened by pap smear cytology. HPV DNA was detected from cervical scrapes by nested polymerase chain reaction. Detection of HPV 16/18 was carried out by polymerase chain reaction using type-specific primers and was confirmed by Southern hybridization. Viral load was determined by absolute real-time polymerase chain reaction. Population prevalence of any HPV was found to be 9.9%. The risk of HPV infection was higher in women aged 25 to 34 years (odds ratio, 1.11), in married women below 20 years of age (odds ratio, 1.80), and in women with parity ≥4 (odds ratio, 1.04). Prevalence of HPV 18 (1.4%) was greater than that of HPV 16 (0.6%) in the overall screened population. High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion cytology was more frequent in women infected with HPV 16 than in those infected with HPV 18 and other types. A gradual increase in HPV copy numbers was associated with progressive cytologic severity. In this study, HPV prevalence is comparable to HPV prevalence reported by other studies among Indian and Asian women. Although the prevalence of HPV 18 was more than that of HPV 16, type 16 infection was associated with higher oncogenicity.

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