Monday, October 28, 2013
Two subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) prevented by vaccines are half as likely to be found in African-American women as in white women with precancerous cervical lesions, according to researchers at Duke Medicine
The findings suggest that African-American women may be less likely to benefit from available HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer. "Screening programs for cervical cancer are known to work well, with around 90% of sexually active women getting screened through Pap tests," said Cathrine Hoyo, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine. "The question is, if screening rates are comparable in African-American and white women, why are the rates of cervical cancer and mortality higher among African-American women when we have a program that works so well?" Hoyo and her colleagues sought to better understand these disparities by determining if African-American and white women in the United States are infected with the same sub-types of HPV. When the researchers looked at the specific strains of HPV, they found that white women and African-American women were often infected with different sub-types. "Compared with white women, we saw that African-American women had about half as many infections with HPV 16 and 18, the subtypes that are covered by HPV vaccines," said Adriana Vidal, Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine. "Since African-American women don't seem to be getting the same sub-types of HPV with the same frequency, the vaccines aren't helping all women equally."