Research Projects

Dr Zizipho Mbulawa – Surveillance of HPV Genotypes among Patients attending Hospital Facilities with High-Grade Lesions, incl Cervical Cancer, in former Transkei region of Eastern Cape

Dr Zizipho Mbulawa – Surveillance of HPV Genotypes among Patients attending Hospital Facilities with High-Grade Lesions, incl Cervical Cancer, in former Transkei region of Eastern Cape

Dr Zizipho Mbulawa

Dr Zizipho Mbulawa

  • Department of Pathology, Division of Medical Virology, University of Cape Town
  • Biography
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Title of the project

Surveillance of HPV Genotypes among Patients attending Hospital Facilities with High-Grade Lesions, including Cervical Cancer, in the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape Province.

Project Description

In March 2014 South Africa introduced vaccination against HPV in schools, aiming to cover around 520 000 girls. A necessary part of the introduction of the HPV vaccine should be a surveillance programme. It is World Health Organisation recommendations that countries should establish surveillance projects that will monitor the impact of vaccination on the prevalence of HPV types. As the HPV vaccine protection is type specific (HPV-16 /HPV-18) with limited cross protection for closely related types (HPV-31/ HPV-45/ HPV-33)(Malagon et al., 2012). It is important to determine the HPV types in local high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) and cervical cancers. There is very little data on the prevalence of HPV and HPV types in women with HSIL or cervical cancer in the former Transkei region of Eastern Cape Province.  Cervical cancer incidence is likely to be under-reported because the Eastern Cape Province has an underdeveloped health infrastructure.

The project will determine the prevalence of specific HPV genotypes in HSIL/cervical cancer biopsies from hospital-based recruitment sites Nelson Mandela Academic hospital based in Mthatha. Biopsies will be transported to Centre for HIV and STI’s Cape Town laboratory where the HPV detection and genotyping will be undertaken. All laboratory staff working on the project will receive training on the purpose of the project, the nature of the tests involved and the importance of confidentiality.

As part of the HPV vaccination strategy in South Africa it is important to have baseline data on HPV so that the impact of vaccination can be assessed. The data needs to come from population based surveillance and women with cervical disease. This project will provide baseline data on the HPV types present in invasive cervical cancers and high-grade cervical lesions in unvaccinated women. Data from this project is important for monitoring trends of HPV genotypes in the former Transkei region.


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