Molecular detection and identification of genital human papillomavirus genotypes in female college students by polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing in Harare
Sebata, Natasha Lerato
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Introduction and objectives: The human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide and are a major cause of morbidity and mortality amongst women. World-wide, data on HPV infection in young women is scarce. It is thus important to determine the prevalence of HPVs per region as the distribution of genotypes differs according to geographic location, race and the genetic make-up of individuals. The objective of the study was to detect and identify genital human papillomaviruses in young female college students in Harare, and to assess their knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) with regards to HPV infection. Materials and methods: Self-collected vaginal swab specimens from female college students aged 20-25 years were processed and genomic DNA extracted. Human papillomavirus-DNA was amplified by consensus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with two pairs of primers (MY09/MY11 and GP5+/GP6+). PCR products were visualised by gel electrophoresis and positive specimens genotyped by DNA sequencing. A socio-demographic questionnaire was also administered to the students. Results: One hundred and fourteen out of 125 swabs had genomic DNA successfully extracted. Of the 114, 36 (31.58%) tested positive for HPV-DNA with the MY09/MY11 primer set and 26 (22.80%) with the GP5+/6+ primer set. MY09/11 primers showed higher sensitivity in HPV-DNA detection. The most prevalent HPV genotypes identified by sequencing were high-risk HPV (16, 18, 45, 58) and low-risk HPV (6 and 81) all detected at a prevalence of 7.69 %. The age range of participants recruited was 20-25 years. They collectively had a mean age of first sexual activity of 19.22 years. There was a lack of HPV related knowledge in the study population. Conclusion: A high prevalence of HPV infection in young college women in Harare was observed. Demographic data and HPV prevalence also suggested a statistical link between HPV infection and multiple sexual partners, having more than one previous sexual partner and an early onset of sexual activity. The KAP survey showed poor knowledge on HPV issues amongst the study participants.