Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted pathogen both in men and women. Accumulating epidemiological evidence supports a strong association between HPV infection and cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, and penis. Currently, data on the HPV prevalence and genotyping is lacking in Northern Cyprus, a region in which HPV vaccination is not freely accessible via the national immunization program. The aim of this study was to evaluate the HPV type-specific prevalence in women with and without cytological abnormalities living in Northern Cyprus.
Methods: A total of 885 women who presented to the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinic between January 2011 and December 2022 were included in the study. Samples were collected for cytology. Cervical specimens were investigated for the presence of HPV-DNA and genotyping of HPV was performed using real-time polymerase chain reaction (rtPCR). Cytological examination was interpreted according to the Bethesda system.
Results: Among all patients, overall high-risk HPV DNA prevalence was 44.3%. HPV-16 and HPV-18 positivity was found in 10.4% and 3.7% of women respectively, while other high-risk HPV (OHR-HPV) was the most frequent type of HPV (30.2%). The highest frequency of HPV infection was observed in the 30-55 age group (51.0%), followed by the < 30 age group (45.7%). Co-infection with two or more HPV types was observed in 17.0% of all positive samples, in which the prevalence of HPV-16 + HPV-18 was 2.3%, HPV-16 + OHR-HPV and HPV-18 + OHR-HPV was 12.0% and 5.1%, respectively. Among the screened patients, 37.5% had abnormal and 62.5% had normal cytology results. HR-HPV positivity was 65.7% and 34.0% in patients with abnormal and normal cytology. The highest incidence of HRC-HPV was OHR-HPV types (44.7%) in positive cytology cases. Among women with a cytology result of ASCUS, L-SIL, H-SIL and unspecified dysplasia, 52.1%, 67.6%, 97.5% and 75.6% were respectively infected with HR-HPV.
Conclusion: The present study provides the latest epidemiological data related to HPV prevalence and genotype distribution among women living in Northern Cyprus. Considering the unavailability of free vaccination in the community, it is imperative to implement local HPV screening programs and provide guidelines on HPV prevention and measures during early school education.
Keywords: Cervical cancer; Cyprus; Genotyping; High-risk HPV; Human papillomavirus; Real-time PCR.
© 2023. The Author(s).