Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is associated with cervical cancer, the most frequent cancer in women from northern Brazil. Assessment of the short-term impact of HPV vaccination depends on the availability of data on the prevalence of type-specific HPV in young women in the pre-immunization period, although these data are currently unavailable for the study region. The aim of this study was to estimate the distribution of all mucosal HPV genotypes, including low- and high-risk HPV types, in unvaccinated college students from northern Brazil.
Specimens were collected from 265 university students during routine cervical cancer screening. The HPV DNA was assessed by Polymerase Chain Reaction and positive samples were genotyped by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. Most students (85.7 %) had normal cytological results. The prevalence of HPV was 25.3 % (67/265), with a high frequency of multiple infections and non-vaccine high-risk HPV genotypes. The most prevalent type was HPV-61 (5.3 %), followed by types 82, 16, 59, and 6. Multiple infections were associated with high-risk and possibly high-risk HPVs.
We demonstrated a high prevalence of HPV infection in university students from northern Brazil. Vaccine high-risk types were relatively rare, emphasizing the predominance of carcinogenic genotypes that are not prevented by the currently available vaccines. Our study highlights the need to reinforce cytological screening in women from northern Brazil, and promote the early diagnosis and treatment of the precancerous lesions associated with cervical cancer.