Background: An ecological correlation between invasive cervical cancer incidence and burden of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) is hypothesized to explain the excess in detectable human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in Latin America, via a global T-helper type 2 (Th2)-biased mucosal immune response secondary to STH infection.
Methods: The association between current STH infection and HPV prevalence was compared in regions of Peru where STH is or is not endemic. Adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) with robust variance were estimated as an effect measure of STH infection on HPV prevalence in each study site. Soluble immune marker profiles in STH-infected and STH-uninfected women were compared using Spearman rank correlation with the Sidak correction.
Results: Among women in the helminth-endemic region of the Peruvian Amazon, those with STH infection women had a 60% higher prevalence of HPV, compared with those without STH infection (PR, 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-2.7). Non-STH parasitic/protozoal infections in the non-STH-endemic population of Peru were not associated with HPV prevalence. In Iquitos, A Th2 immune profile was observed in cervical fluid from helminth-infected women but not helminth-uninfected women.
Conclusions: A proportion of the increased HPV prevalence at older ages observed in Latin America may be due to a population-level difference in the efficiency of immunological control of HPV across the lifespan due to endemic STH infection.
Keywords: age; cervical cancer; human papillomavirus; parasite; prevalence; soil-transmitted helminth.
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