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Open Access Research article

Human papillomavirus infection and risk factors in a cohort of Tuscan women aged 18-24: results at recruitment

Massimo Confortini1*, Francesca Carozzi1, Marco Zappa2, Leonardo Ventura2, Anna Iossa3, Paola Cariaggi4, Livia Brandigi1, Mario Franchini5, Francesco Mirri6, Paolo Viacava7, Aurora Scarfantoni7, Daniela Bazzanti8 and Cristina Sani1

Author Affiliations

1 Analytical and Biomolecular Cytology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, ISPO, Via Cosimo il Vecchio 2, Florence, Italy

2 Clinical and Descriptive Epidemiology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, ISPO, Via di S. Salvi, Florence, Italy

3 Screening Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, ISPO, viale A. Volta 171, Florence, Italy

4 Cytopathology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, ISPO, viale A. Volta 171, Florence, Italy

5 Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Santa Maria Annunziata Hospital, via dell'Antella, Florence, Italy

6 Departimental Section of Cytohistological for Oncological Screening, via Curtatone 54, Arezzo, Italy

7 Pathological Anatomy Department, Ospedale Unico della Versilia, via Aurelia 335, Lido di Camaiore, Lucca, Italy

8 Sanitary District of Valdarno, via Curtatone 54, Arezzo, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-157

Published: 7 June 2010



There is conclusive evidence that human papillomavirus (HPV) infections of the cervix are a necessary cause of cervical cancer. In Italy there are consistent data of HPV prevalence in women aged 25 - 64 years, but there is limited data for younger women. The objective of this on-going 3-year prospective cohort study is to investigate the prevalence, acquisition, clearance and persistence of HPV infections in young Tuscan women and the risk factors correlated with such events.


One thousand and sixty-six women aged between 18 and 24 years were enrolled and received an initial HPV test. They were asked to return to the clinic over the study period for further tests every 12 months, if their HPV HR result was negative, or every 6 months, if positive. Additionally, women with an HPV positive result were given a cytological examination and if the cytological diagnosis was ASC-US or more severe, only women with HPV HR, were referred for colposcopy.


We present here data for the enrolment phase of the study. At baseline, within the study sample, just under 30% of women were infected by HPV and 19.3% of women were infected with oncogenic types. A relationship was highlighted between HPV infection, number of sexual partners (in particularly in the last 3 years) and the lifetime number of partner's partners. Condom use showed a slight protective effect in univariate analysis but these data were not statistically significant in multivariate analysis. The association between HPV infection and demographic and behavioural variables were tested by crude odds ratio (OR). Multivariate logistic regression was applied to compute the adjusted odds ratios.


The prevalence of oncogenic HPV types was high in young Tuscan women. The 3-year follow-up of this cohort may provide a better understanding of the processes of acquisition, clearance and persistence of infection and the correlated risk factors.