High Burden of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection among Young Women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

<div><p>Objectives</p><p>HPV infection causes cervical cancer, yet information on prevalence and risk factors for HPV in Africa remain sparse. This study describes the prevalence of HPV genotypes and risk factors associated with HPV among young women ≤ 30 years of age in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa.</p><p>Methods</p><p>Cervicovaginal lavage samples were tested for HPV genotypes in 224 women enrolled in a prospective cohort study. Clinical, behavioural and demographic data were collected. We measured prevalence of HPV genotypes and using logistic regression, examined for factors associated with HPV.</p><p>Results</p><p>Median age of participants was 21 years [interquartile range (IQR):18–23]. The overall prevalence of HPV was 76.3% (171/224) with multiple and single genotypes prevalent in 56.3% and 20.1% of women respectively. Proportion of women with high-risk genotypes (16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56 and 58) was 54.5%. Women not living with their partner [adjusted odds ratio (aOR)] = 3.42 95% CI1.22–9.60; p = 0.019), was significantly associated with HPV infection and high-risk HPV genotype infection.</p><p>Conclusion</p><p>The high burden of HPV and associated risk behaviours highlight the need to intensify behavioural interventions to prevent HPV acquisition in young women. The large scale delivery of HPV vaccine should be prioritised to prevent HPV acquisition and reduce HPV-related morbidity.</p></div>