Background: Preparing for HPV vaccine programs, studies are needed of HPV infection in different populations.
Goal: The goal was to evaluate HPV prevalence and determinants in Concordia, Argentina.
Study design: A stratified random sample of 1786 households was obtained. Consenting women aged > or =15 years were interviewed and underwent examination, including colposcopy. Cells were collected for a Papanicolaou smear and HPV DNA testing with GP5+/6+ primer-mediated PCR-EIA.
Results: PCR was performed on specimens from 987 women. Prevalence among women reporting no previous sexual activity was 3%, and among sexually active women it was 17.7%, peaking at <25 years of age and decreasing to a minimum at > or =65 years of age. However, low-risk types had similar prevalence (approximately 5%) in all age groups. HPV16 (4.0%), HPV35 (2.6%), and other high-risk types were the most common. Almost half of infections were multiple. Younger women initiated sexual activity earlier and had more partners. The main determinants of HPV detection were lifetime number of sex partners and vaginal discharge.
Conclusion: A clear pattern of decreasing prevalence of HPV with age was observed. This could be explained by development of immunity against specific types over time or related to a cohort effect associated with a recent spread of HPV in this population after recent changes in sexual behavior.