Background: Knowledge of prevalence rates and distribution of human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes prior high HPV vaccine coverage is necessary to assess its expected impact on HPV ecology and on cervical lesions and cancers.
Methods: Residual specimens of cervical cytology (N = 6,538) were obtained from 16 sites participating in organised cervical cancer screening pilot programs throughout France, anonymised and tested for HPV DNA using the PapilloCheck® genotyping test. Samples were stratified according to age of women and cytological grades.
Results: The age-standardised prevalence rates of HPV 16 and/or 18 (with or without other high-risk types) was 47.2% (95% Confidence Interval, CI: 42.4-52.1) in high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs), 20.2% in low-grade SIL (95% CI: 16.7-23.7) and 3.9% (95% CI: 2.8-5.1) in normal cytology. Overall HR HPV were detected in 13.7% (95%I CI: 11.7-15.6) of normal cytology. In women below 30 years of age, 64% of HSILs were associated with HPV16 and/or 18. In our study population, HPV16 was the most commonly detected type in all cervical grades with prevalence rates ranking from 3.0% in normal cytology to 50.9% in HSILs. HPV16 was also detected in 54% (27/50) of invasive cervical cancers including 5 adenocarcinomas.
Conclusion: HPV16 was strongly associated with cervical precancer and cancer. The high prevalence rates of HPV16/18 infection among women below 30 years of age with HSILs suggests that the impact of vaccination would be primarily observed among young women.