Prevalence of human papillomavirus in cervical scrapes, as analyzed by PCR, in a population-based sample of women with and without cervical dysplasia


Department of Virology, National Institute of Public Health, N-0462 Oslo, Norway.


HPV is suspected of being a major cause of cancer of the uterine cervix. To understand the risk of disease in the general population of women, it is important to estimate the prevalence of HPV infection in a random population-based sample of women without disease. In this study, a total of 231 randomly selected women without dysplasia (controls) were examined, and compared with 103 women with histologically confirmed CIN II–III (patients). The prevalence of HPV DNA in cervical scrapes was determined by general nested PCR, which was expected to detect any relevant HPV type commonly found in cervical samples. The nested positive samples were typed with type-specific PCR. In the general nested PCR, 15% of the controls were positive, compared to 91% of the patients. In the population-based sample, 2.2% had HPV types 6 and 11, and 10% had types 16, 18, 31, and 33. In both groups, HPV DNA was observed less frequently in women above than below the age of 30. The results are among the few population-based figures on the prevalence of HPV in women, and provide a baseline for understanding the risk of developing cancer of the uterine cervix, and determining the proportion of women to be included in intervention studies.