Background: Baseline information on human papillomavirus (HPV) prevalence and type distribution is highly desirable to evaluate the impact of prophylactic HPV vaccines in the near future.
Methods: A meta-analysis was performed of studies published between 1995 and 2009 that used polymerase chain reaction or Hybrid Capture 2 for HPV detection in women with normal cytological findings.
Results: The analysis included 194 studies comprising 1,016,719 women with normal cytological findings. The estimated global HPV prevalence was 11.7% (95% confidence interval, 11.6%-11.7%). Sub-Saharan Africa (24.0%), Eastern Europe (21.4%), and Latin America (16.1%) showed the highest prevalences. Age-specific HPV distribution presented with a first peak at younger ages (<25 years) and, in the Americas and Africa, a rebound at older ages (≥45 years). Among the women with type-specific HPV data (n = 215,568), the 5 most common types worldwide were HPV-16 (3.2%), HPV-18 (1.4%), HPV-52 (0.9%), HPV-31 (0.8%), and HPV-58 (0.7%).
Conclusions: Although the prevalence of HPV in women with normal cytological findings is high and variable across world regions, HPV types 16, 18, 31, 52, and 58 are consistently found among the 10 most common types in all of them. These results represent the most comprehensive assessment of HPV burden among women with normal cytological findings in the pre-HPV vaccination era worldwide.