Human papillomavirus in a rural community in Zimbabwe: the impact of HIV co-infection on HPV genotype distribution

Baay MF, Kjetland EF, Ndhlovu PD, Deschoolmeester V, Mduluza T, Gomo E, Friis H, Midzi N, Gwanzura L, Mason PR, Vermorken JB, Gundersen SG

Journal title: Journal of medical virology

J. Med. Virol. 2004 Jul;73(3):481-5

PMID: 15170646

Article on PubMed:


Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in developing countries, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) is linked etiologically to cervical cancer. Hence, a vaccine which prevents HPV-associated cervical cancer would have the most impact in developing countries, including the African continent. The type-specific immune response towards HPV virus-like particles, in combination with geographical variation in the prevalence of HPV, necessitates the presence of multiple HPV type antigens in a single vaccine cocktail in order to provide relevant protection. We aimed to investigate whether co-infection with HIV, which is highly prevalent in Africa, plays a role in HPV genotype distribution. After informed consent, HPV detection by GP5+/6+ PCR and HIV detection by serology was carried out on 236 women from the rural north-western part of Zimbabwe. The prevalence of HPV was higher in HIV positive women (54%) than in HIV negative women (27%). Certain HPV types (HPV types 11, 39, 43, 51, and 59, P-values ranging from 0.017 to 0.067) occurred more frequently in HIV positive women. Only high-risk HPV, and not HIV, was associated significantly with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia in multiple regression analysis. In conclusion, a high prevalence of HPV was found in a rural community, where regular Papanicolaou (Pap) smears would be a logistic and economic impossibility, but where free vaccination programmes against other infections are already established. The results suggest that HIV co-infection may have an impact on HPV genotype distribution.