Background: On a global scale, the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union have an intermediate incidence of cervical cancer, the main etiologic factor of which is human papillomavirus (HPV), a major sexually transmitted disease (STD). Recently, the prevalence of all STDs has exploded in these countries.
Goal: The goal of this study was to examine the sexual habits and HPV prevalence among females in three NIS countries.
Study design: In this multinational (European Community-funded) trial, a series of 3,175 consecutive female patients were examined for HPV status (by Hybrid Capture II) at six clinics in Russia, Belarus, and Latvia. A meticulous survey of their sexual habits and other potential risk factors of HPV infections was made by structured questionnaire.
Results: Three categories of patients were examined: those attending STD clinics (n=722), gynecological patients (n=761), and those who participated in cervical cancer screening (n=1,692). These three categories were significantly differentiated by a large number of key variables, including the HPV detection rate (44.9% of STD patients, 39.8% of gynecological patients, and 24.5% of those who were screened). A wide variety sexual habits of these subjects were predictors of the HPV status in univariate analysis. Binary logistic regression analysis found that six different variables remained as independent predictors of HPV status. Patient category (STD) and (young) age were two highly significant predictors of increased risk (P<0.0001), whereas having a nonsmoking partner and having zero or one partner during the past 2 years were significant protective factors (P=0.004 and P=0.007, respectively).
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that women and girls in these NIS countries are conservative in many key characteristics of "high-risk" sexual behavior, such as age at onset of sexual activity, number of partners, and casual sex partners. HPV-positive and HPV-negative groups are clearly distinguished by the same variables identified as the key risk factors of HPV infection and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia in Western countries.