Human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer in Latin America

N Engl J Med. 1989 Jun 1;320(22):1437-41. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198906013202201.


To evaluate a possible association between infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, we performed a multicenter case-control study in Latin America of 759 cases of invasive cervical cancer and 1467 randomly selected age-matched controls. Demographic, sexual, behavioral, and other clinical data were obtained by interview, and HPV DNA was assayed in cervical-swab specimens with use of filter in situ hybridization. Cervical infection with HPV 16 or 18 or both was strongly associated with cervical cancer. HPV DNA was detected in 62 percent of the cases but only 32 percent of the controls, and the relative risk of cancer increased from 2.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.6 to 2.8) to 9.1 (6.1 to 13.6) with hybridization reactions of increasing strength. Although the number of sexual partners, age at first intercourse, number of live births, and Pap-smear history were also significant risk factors, the strong associations between infection with HPV 16 or 18 or both and cervical cancer persisted after we adjusted for these variables. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that genital infection with HPV 16 or 18 may have a role in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer. Other well-known risk factors were also identified in the study, but they did not affect the association between HPV and cervical cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America
  • Middle Aged
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Parity
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / complications
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / etiology*


  • DNA, Viral