Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in Southern Africa: prevalence, immunity, and vaccine prospects

IUBMB Life. 2002 Apr-May;53(4-5):253-8. doi: 10.1080/15216540212654.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) associated cancers are more prevalent in developing countries compared to developed countries. The major cancer caused by HPV is cervical cancer. The humoral immune response to HPV can be a marker of past infection but may also reflect persistent infection and cervical disease. IgA antibodies to HPV in oral fluid were also found to be markers of cervical disease. Cell mediated immunity is important in clearing HPV infection and for regression of the associated lesions: this means that women infected with HIV have a high prevalence of co-infection with HPV. Good cervical screening programmes can control HPV associated cervical neoplasia. However, in countries such as South Africa, where these programmes are inadequate, there is a need for an HPV vaccine. The development of HPV vaccines is reviewed. There is a call for an inexpensive vaccine that will be accessible to the women that do not have access to adequate screening programmes and are therefore at the greatest risk of cervical cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Mass Screening
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • South Africa
  • Vaccines, DNA


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Vaccines, DNA