• epidemiology;
  • HPV epidemiological pockets;
  • mediterranean area;
  • multivalent HPV vaccine formulation;
  • cervical cancer prevention and screening


“High-risk” HPVs (HR-HPV) have sharply different prevalences and there is evidence to suggest this may vary according to regions. Accurate description of HR-HPV circulation is a key feature for the rational design of prevention and screening campaigns. To gain insight into HR-HPV circulation in Tunisia, a pilot study was carried out on 64 healthy prostitutes working in the Tunis area. HPV detection and typing were carried out by MY09/MY11 PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). A selected set of samples was also assayed by Gp5+/Gp6+ PCR and typed by direct sequencing. Out of 64 women, 28 were HPV positive. HPV-16 and HPV-58, both members of the genus Alpha-Papillomavirus, species 9, accounted for 10 and 7 cases with a prevalence rate of 38% and 27%, respectively. HPV-82, a member of species 5, ranked third with four cases (∼15%). Types 31, 33, 35; all members of species 9 were each detected once (∼4%) while neither HPV-18 nor related members of species 7 were detected. Type 72 and 83, both members of species 3, were the only low-risk types, each detected only once (4% each). Two samples could not be typed. The prevalence of HPV types appeared sharply different from that of neighboring areas. Should the existence of epidemiological pockets be confirmed by larger, more detailed studies, screening and vaccine campaigns will have to be designed carefully taking into account the actual epidemiological context of the target population. J. Med. Virol. 78:950–953, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.