Despite the high incidence of cervical cancer reported from India, large scale population based studies on the HPV prevalence and genotype distribution are very few from this region. In view of the clinical trials for HPV vaccine taking place in India, it is of utmost importance to understand the prevalence of HPV genotypes in various geographical regions of India. We investigated the genotype distribution of high-risk HPV types in squamous cell carcinomas and the prevalence of high-risk HPV in cervicovaginal samples in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India.
HPV genotyping was done in cervical cancer specimens (n = 41) obtained from women attending a regional cancer hospital in Hyderabad. HPV-DNA testing was also done in cervicovaginal samples (n = 185) collected from women enrolled in the cervical cancer screening pilot study conducted in the rural community, of Medchal Mandal, twenty kilometers away from Hyderabad.
High-risk HPV types were found in 87.8% (n = 36/41) of the squamous cell carcinomas using a PCR-based line blot assay. Among the HPV positive cancers, the overall type distribution of the major high-risk HPV types was as follows: HPV 16 (66.7%), HPV 18 (19.4%), HPV 33 (5.6%), HPV 35 (5.6%), HPV 45 (5.6%), HPV 52 (2.8%), HPV 58(2.8%), HPV 59(2.8%) and HPV 73 (2.8%). Women participating in the community screening programme provided both a self-collected vaginal swab and a clinician-collected cervical swab for HPV DNA testing. Primary screening for high risk HPV was performed using the Digene Hybrid Capture 2 (hc2) assay. All hc2 positive samples by any one method of collection were further analyzed using the Roche PCR-based line blot for genotype determination. The prevalence of high risk HPV infection in this community-based screening population was 10.3% (19/185) using the clinician-collected and 7.0% (13/185) using the self-collected samples. The overall agreement between self-collected and clinician-collected samples was 92%; however among HPV-positive specimens, the HPV agreement was only moderate (39.1%). The most frequently detected HPV types in the Medchal community are HPV 52 and 16.
Our results suggest that the HPV type distribution in both cervical cancer tissues and in a general screening population from Andhra Pradesh is similar to that reported in India and other parts of the world. We also conclude that an effective vaccine targeting HPV 16 will reduce the cervical cancer burden in AP.