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Cancer Cytopathol. 2019 Aug 7. doi: 10.1002/cncy.22165. [Epub ahead of print]

Cervical high-risk human papillomavirus infection among women residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Prevalence, type-specific distribution, and correlation with cervical cytology.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
Department of Chemical Pathology, Medical Research Institute, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.
Molecular Diagnostics Unit, Al Borg Medical Laboratories, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.



The scarcity of updated data on the prevalence of cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries hampers the establishment of cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination programs. The current study estimated the prevalence of cervical high-risk (HR) HPV infection among women residing in some countries of the GCC and analyzed the correlation between HR-HPV infection types and cytology results.


In total, 2478 women residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain were enrolled in this study. Cervical specimens were subjected to simultaneous liquid-based cytology and HR-HPV DNA analysis.


Of 2478 women, 520 (21%) tested positive for HR-HPV. Other non-HPV genotype 16 (HPV16)/HPV18 HR-HPV was the most frequently detected infection type, accounting for 63.7%. Non-Arab women had a significantly higher HR-HPV positivity rate compared with Arab women (31.6% vs 16.4%; P < .001). The HR-HPV positivity rate was highest among women residing in Qatar (31.3%), followed by women living in Bahrain (20%), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (17.2%), and the United Arab Emirates (14.7%). The overall prevalence of HR-HPV infections declined significantly with advancing age (P < .001). Women with abnormal cytology had a significantly higher HR-HPV positivity rate than those with normal cytology (50.6% vs 14.7%; P < .001). The HR-HPV positivity rate increased as the severity of the cytological lesion increased.


The current study provides updated data on HR-HPV prevalence in the GCC countries and delivers an evidence base for supporting the introduction of regional/national vaccination and screening programs in these countries.


cervical cancer; cervical cytology; genotypic distribution; high-risk human papillomavirus; overall prevalence


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