Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are recommended for girls prior to sexual debut because they are most effective if administered before girls acquire HPV. Little research has been done on HPV prevalence in girls who report not having passed sexual debut in high HPV-prevalence countries.
Methods: Using attendance registers of randomly selected primary schools in the Mwanza region of Tanzania, we enrolled girls aged 15-16 years who reported not having passed sexual debut. A face-to-face interview on sexual behavior and intravaginal practices, and a nurse-assisted self-administered vaginal swab were performed. Swabs were tested for 13 high-risk and 24 low-risk HPV genotypes.
Results: HPV was detected in 40/474 (8.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.9-11.0) girls. Ten different high-risk and 21 different low-risk genotypes were detected. High-risk genotypes were detected in 5.3% (95% CI, 3.5-7.8). In multivariable analysis, only intravaginal cleansing (practiced by 20.9%) was associated with HPV detection (adjusted odds ratio = 2.19, 95% CI, 1.09-4.39).
Conclusion: This cohort of adolescent Tanzanian girls had a high HPV prevalence prior to self-reported sexual debut, and this was associated with intravaginal cleansing. This most likely reflects underreporting of sexual activity, and it is possible that intravaginal cleansing is a marker for unreported sexual debut or nonpenetrative sexual behaviors.
Keywords: human papillomavirus; prevalence; sexual debut; sub–Saharan Africa.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.