Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are epitheliotropic viruses that cause skin and mucosa infections. Inter-human transmission mainly occurs through direct contact. Genital HPV represent the most frequent aetiology of sexually transmitted infections (STI) worldwide. Annual incidence of infections with genital HPV is about 30 % in young adults, during the years following the beginning of sexual activity. The prevalence of cervical HPV infection is about 30 % in women of 20-25 years of age with a subsequent decrease to less than 10 % in women above 30-35 years of age. High-risk HPV (HR-HPV) are associated with the development of cancerous lesions. HR-HPV are involved in virtually all cases of cervical cancer and in a variable proportion of other genital cancers and of head and neck cancers. HR-HPV types 16 and 18 are involved in about 70 % of the HPV-related cancers worldwide, although some regional variations may be observed in the distribution of other HR-HPV types. Prevalence of HPV infection and associated precancerous and cancerous lesions are higher in HIV-infected women compared with HIV-uninfected women. In the future, the large-scale diffusion of prophylactic vaccines should modify the epidemiology of HPV and associated cancers, in particular cervical cancer. [Article in French with English summary].
Revue Francophone des Laboratoires (2008) (405) 27-34 [doi:10.1016/S1773-035X(08)74275-8]