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Sex Transm Dis. 2009 May;36(5):305-11. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318194eb76.

Cervical human papillomavirus incidence and persistence in a cohort of HIV-negative women in Zimbabwe.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of California-San Francisco, 2340 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



Persistent infections with oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) types are causally related to cervical cancer. Little is known about the distribution of HPV types, independent risk factors of incidence and persistence, and patterns of persistence in sub-Saharan Africa.


A cohort of 2040 Zimbabwean women was enrolled in a randomized trial assessing the effect of diaphragm/gel provision on human immunodeficiency virus and HPV acquisition. Data from the study arms were pooled for this analysis because diaphragm/gel provision did not affect HPV acquisition and clearance. Clinicians collected cervical samples for HPV testing at enrollment, 12 months, and exit (median 21 months).


HPV prevalence was 24.5% for any HPV type and 16.1% for oncogenic types. HPV incidence at 12 months was 23.3% for any HPV type and 11.4% for oncogenic types. HPV58 had the highest baseline prevalence (5.0%) and incidence (2.4%). Type-specific persistence was 29.8% among all HPV infections over a median of 21 months of follow-up. Baseline predictors of incident HPV infection were younger age, having more than 1 lifetime sexual partner, infrequent condom use, herpes simplex virus-2 positive serology, and having a sexually transmissible infection or a different HPV type at enrollment. Baseline predictors of persistent HPV infection were younger age, having more than 1 lifetime sexual partner, and having a high-risk partner.


The novel association between herpes simplex virus-2 seropositivity and incident HPV infection warrants further investigation. Having a high-risk partner is a potentially modifiable risk factor for persistent HPV infection. The relatively high prevalence of HPV58 has implications for vaccine development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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