We determined the utility of an assay for 13 cancer-associated HPV types in primary cervical cancer screening of Zimbabwe women at high risk of HIV infection. HIV antibody status was determined by ELISA of oral mucosal specimens, and HPV DNA in the genital tract was identified by hybridization of cervical scrapes with probe B of Hybrid Capture II. Among the 466 women investigated, the prevalence of HPV, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LGSIL) and high-grade SIL (HGSIL) were 47.2%, 13.9% and 12%. Fifty-three and one-half percent of the women were HIV-seropositive. As compared with HIV-seronegative women, HIV-infected women had a greater than 2-fold HPV prevalence (64.3% vs. 27.6%), a greater than 7-fold amount of HPV DNA (RLU of 82.6 vs. 10.7) in HPV(+) women assessed as normal on the reference standard, and a nearly 3-fold greater HGSIL prevalence (17.3% vs. 5.9%). The strong link between HGSIL and HPV DNA positivity was seen in both HIV-infected and HIV-seronegative women. The amount of HPV DNA increased with disease severity in both HIV-seronegative and HIV-infected women. The sensitivity and specificity of the HPV test for HGSIL were, respectively, 90.7% (95% confidence limit 77.9-97.4%) and 41.3% (34.5-48.3%) in HIV-infected women and 61.5% (31.6-86.1%) and 74.5% (68.0-80.3%), respectively, in HIV(-) women. The usefulness of the HPV test as a screening test for cervical cancer in areas of high HPV prevalence will depend upon local health resource availability, disease priorities and policies regarding clinical case management.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.