Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical neoplasia. Because few population-based studies have investigated the prevalence of type-specific infection in relation to cervical disease, we studied a high-risk population, estimating the prevalence of HPV infection and the risk associated with various HPV types. Methods: We screened 9175 women in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, to obtain a referent standard final diagnosis, and tested 3024 women for more than 40 types of HPV with a polymerase chain reaction-based system. Results: Among women with normal cytology, HPV infections peaked first in women younger than 25 years, and they peaked again at age 55 years or older with predominantly non-cancer- associated types of HPV and uncharacterized HPV types. Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSILs) (n = 189) decreased consistently with age. The prevalence of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs) (n = 128) peaked first around age 30 years and again at age 65 years or older. Seventy-three percent of LSILs were HPV positive, with HPV16 being the predominant type (16% of positive subjects). HPV was found in 89% of HSILs and 88% of cancers, with HPV16 being strongly predominant (51% and 53% of positive subjects). Virtually all HSILs and cancers had cancer-associated HPV types, with high odds ratios (ORs) and attributable fractions around 80%. Risk for HPV16 was particularly high (OR for HSILs = 320, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 97-1000; OR for cancer = 710, 95% CI = 110-4500). Conclusions: We confirm the early decline of HPV infection with age but note increased prevalence after menopause, which could be related to a second peak of HSILs, an observation that warrants further investigation. At least 80% of HPVs involved in cervical carcinogenesis in this population have been characterized. Polyvalent vaccines including the main cancer-associated HPV types may be able to prevent most cases of cervical disease in this region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research