Objectives: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the major etiological agent of cervical cancer, a leading cause ofmorbidity and mortality in women worldwide. Screening strategies for reducing the burden of HPV-mediatedcarcinogenesis are emerging as an effective means for cervical cancer control and prevention in developingcountries. Our study, therefore, aimed to identify HPV infection status in North Indian women during randompopulation screening. Methodology: Cervical/vaginal exfoliated cells and/or Pap smear specimens were collectedfrom 890 women of North Indian ethnicity residing in Lucknow and adjoining areas, during random populationscreening from June 2009-March 2012. HPV viral loads in clinical specimens were determined by the HybridCapture (hc)-2 HPV DNA assay, and subsequently, positive/negative/borderline HPV status was calculated.
Results: The HPV incidence in the present study was 11.7%. 751 out of a total of 890 women (84.4%) participatingin our HPV screening program were HPV negative (HPV -), 104 (11.7%) tested positive (HPV +) while 35 (3.9%)showed borderline (HPV *) infection status. Furthermore, in the HPV + subjects (N=104), 18 (17.3%) showedstrong positivity. We observed that HPV positivity tends to increase with age in North Indian women; the higherthe viral load with increasing age, higher is the susceptibility to HPV-mediated cervical cancer.
Conclusions:HPV viral load/genotyping may help in identifying women at risk of developing cervical cancer. However, costeffectiveHPV screening protocols with a wider population coverage are warranted so as to reduce the burdenof cervical cancer in women worldwide in the vaccine-era.