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Prevalence of human papillomavirus infection in a clinic sample of transsexuals in Italy


Objectives Detectable human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Reports on the prevalence of detectable HPV DNA among transsexuals (not sex workers) are scarce. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of detectable HPV DNA in a clinic sample of transsexuals and to assess the relationship between detectable HPV DNA and cytological outcomes.

Methods Clinical samples (oral, anal, vaginal, cervicovaginal and penile scraped cells) from 35 transsexuals (surgically treated and surgically untreated) who attended the outpatient Clinic of Gender Identity Dysphoria of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Policlinico Hospital (Bari, Italy) were collected for cytological analysis and HPV DNA detection and typing. All enrolled subjects answered an anonymous structured questionnaire about their sexual habits. Serological status for other sexually transmitted diseases (hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), HIV and syphilis) was also evaluated.

Results HPV DNA was detected in 14 of 35 patients (40.0%). The prevalence of detectable HPV DNA was 38.2% (13/34) in tested anal samples, 9.1% (2/22) in vaginal samples and 8.3% (1/12) in penile samples. Oncogenic HPV genotypes have been detected in 93% of HPV-positive transsexuals. More than one-third (35.7%) of HPV-positive transsexuals were infected with at least one of the four vaccine-preventable genotypes, 6, 11, 16 and 18.

Conclusions The high rate of detectable HPV DNA by oncogenic types suggests that periodic cytological screening and clinical evaluation may be necessary since transsexuals are at high risk of anogenital cancer. Also promoting HPV vaccination in younger subjects may be advisable.

  • HPV

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