Objectives: To confirm the risk factors for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
Goal of this study: To investigate risk factors for HPV detection independent of the correlated risk factors for cervical neoplasia, in a high-risk population.
Study design: We investigated 404 cytologically normal women attending medical assistance clinics in the Washington, D.C. area. Risk factor information was obtained and a cervicovaginal lavage was collected and used for HPV detection and typing by a PCR-based technique.
Results: The point prevalence of HPV was 33.7%. This contrasts with the 17.7% and 44.3% observed in the companion reports published in this issue of the journal. HPV prevalence decreased with age and increased with greater numbers of sexual partners. Moreover, more recent sexual behavior was a better predictor of current HPV detection than lifetime number of sexual partners. Numbers of pregnancies and current pregnancy were positively associated with HPV prevalence and there was an indication that current oral contraceptive users had a higher prevalence of HPV compared to never users. Smoking was not associated with increased HPV prevalence.
Conclusion: Findings support the sexual route of transmission of HPV and confirm the association of HPV detection with age, suggesting the host's ability to clear infection or the virus' ability to become latent.