Open Access Research article

Prevalence of HPV high and low risk types in cervical samples from the Italian general population: a population based study

Paolo Giorgi Rossi1*, Simonetta Bisanzi2, Irene Paganini2, Angela Di Iasi3, Claudio Angeloni4, Aurora Scalisi5, Rosalba Macis6, Maria Teresa Pini7, Francesco Chini1, Francesca Maria Carozzi2 and HPV Prevalence Italian Working Group

Author Affiliations

1 Laziosanità - Agency for Public Health, Lazio Region. Via di S. Costanza 53, 00198 - Rome, Italy

2 Analytical and Biomolecular Cytology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, ISPO, Via Cosimo il Vecchio 2, Florence - 50139, Italy

3 Anatomia Patologica, Ospedale G. Moscati, ASL Caserta 2, Aversa (CE) - 81021, Italy

4 Coordinamento Screening, ASL Teramo, Teramo - 64100, Italy

5 Coordinamento Screening, ASL Catania, Catania - 95124, Italy

6 Anatomia Patologica, ASL Cagliari 09125, Italy

7 Coordinamento Screening, Dipartimento Materno Infantile, ASL Napoli 2, Giugliano in Campania (NA) - 80014, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:214  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-214

Published: 20 July 2010



This multicenter study describes the type-specific prevalence of HPV infection in the general population from central and southern Italy, comparing the data with previously published Italian studies.


Women aged from 25 to 65 who attended cervical cancer screening in five different Italian regions were tested for HPV infection with Hybrid Capture II (HCII) low and high risk probes. Women repeating Pap-test upon unsatisfactory or positive results, or as a post-treatment and post-colposcopy follow-up analysis, were excluded from our study. High risk (HR) HPV positive samples were typed using GP5+/GP6+ primed PCR, followed by Reverse Line Blot for 18 high/intermediate risk HPV types, while low risk (LR) HPV positive samples were tested with type specific primers for HPV6 and HPV11.


3817 women had a valid HCII test: 350 of them (9.2%) were positive for HR probes, 160 (4.2%) for LR probes, while 57 women were positive for both. Multiple infections were detected in 97 HR HPV positive women. The most common types were HPV 16 (3%), 31 (1.2%), 51 (1%). HPV6 ranked fifth (0.6%), HPV18 ranked tenth (0.5%) and HPV11 sixteenth (0.3%).

In Sardinia the prevalence of high-risk infection was 13%, significantly higher than the mean value (p < 0.00005).

The distribution of the most frequent types did not significantly differ by centre (p = 0.187) and age (p = 0.085).


Because cervical cancer incidence and Pap test coverage is lower in southern than in northern Italy, a lower prevalence of high-risk infections in the general population was expected in the south. However, prevalence detected in this study for the south of the country is slightly but significantly higher than the rest of Italy. The consequence may be an epidemic of cervical cancer in the next decades if adequate screening programs are not implemented there.