Background: The distribution of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) varies greatly across populations and HPV surveys have been performed in different geographical regions in order to apply appropriate vaccine strategies. Little information, however, exists regarding HPV genotypes distribution in immigrant women from countries at high incidence for cervical cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the spectrum of HPVs and their variants among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women immigrants in South Italy mainly from West Africa and with a history of prostitution.
Results: Cervical cytological samples have been collected from 14 HIV-positive and 31 HIV-negative immigrants (38 out of 45 were born in Nigeria), attending a gynecological outpatient clinic in the Campania region. Human papillomaviruses were detected by broad spectrum consensus-primer-pairs MY09/MY11 and GP5+/GP6+-based polymerase chain reaction and characterized by nucleotide sequence analysis. Altogether, 42.2% (19/45) of samples were HPV positive with detection rates of 57.1% (8/14) in HIV-positive and 35.5% (11/31) in HIV-negative women. Among the twelve different viral genotypes identified, HPV33, 58, 70 and 81 were the prevalent genotypes with a frequency of 6.7% each, followed by HPV16, 35, 42, 54, 31, 52, 56 and 67, in descending order of prevalence. Sequence homology studies performed on the L1 amplified fragments of HPV16, 52 and 58 isolates allowed the identification of nucleotide changes distinctive of non-European variants.
Conclusion: The overall HPV prevalence (42.2%) was high in this immigrant women group with the most common viral types other than HPV16 and 18, against which current vaccine strategies have been developed. The distribution of HPV genotypes and their variants in high-risk immigrants reflects that of their original countries. The surveillance of risk groups that may act as viral reservoirs of uncommon genotypes within different countries are necessary to determine the severity of HPV infection with the different viral types and to monitor a possible shift of prevalent strains following vaccination.