Research Projects

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research – Prof Anna-Lise Williamson

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research – Prof Anna-Lise Williamson

Prof Anna-Lise Williamson

Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town

Email: Anna-Lise.Williamson@uct.ac.za

Co-investigators: Zizipho Mbulawa (PhD student), Dr Di Marais, Dr Leigh Johnson (post-doctoral fellow), Dr David Coetzee

Title of the project

The Natural History of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection  in South African Couples

Aims & objectives of the project

The aims of this study are to describe:

  • The natural history of genital and oral HPV infection among South African men and women
  • HPV transmission between heterosexual couples
  • The immune response to HPV in men and their female partners

The main objectives are to determine:

  • Genital and oral HPV prevalence and HPV type distribution in South African men and their female partners
  • The factors associated with HPV prevalence, persistence and clearance and the part played by serum and mucosal antibodies
  • HPV persistence and clearance after a 1 year period

Additional objectives or secondary objectives:

  • Whether oral antibodies do in fact reflect HPV infection at an anogenital site
  • The concordance/ discordance of HPV types in HPV infected couples

Achieved to date

HPV infection was significantly higher in men/women with partners who were HPV positive compared to men/women with partners who were HPV negative (72% compared to 40%, P<0.001). Men with HIV-positive female partners were found to be at higher risk of any HPV, HR-HPV and LR-HPV infection compared to men with HIV-negative female partners. In men with HIV-positive female partners the risk of any HPV type was found to increase with decreasing CD4 count levels of their partner compared to men with HIV-negative female partners. The risk of any HPV type, HR-HPV and LR-HPV type was not found to differ between women with a HIV-positive male partner and women with a HIV-negative male partner. Neither the HIV-positive status nor the level of the CD4 count of the male partner influenced HPV prevalence in women. More women had antibody responses than men, even when stratified according to age and HIV status. Multiple seroprevalence was more common in women. Serum antibodies correlated poorly with the presence of genital HPV DNA.

How is this project of value in the struggle against cancer?

This project gives important insight into the transmission of HPV in heterosexual couples. It is the biggest cohort that we know about and the only one to include HIV positive as well as HIV discordant couples.

Peer reviewed publications

Mbulawa ZZ, Coetzee D, Marais DJ, Kamupira M, Zwane E, Allan B, Constant D, Moodley JR, Hoffman M, Williamson AL (2009) Genital human papillomavirus prevalence and human papillomavirus concordance in heterosexual couples are positively associated with human immunodeficiency virus coinfection. J Infect Dis. 2009 May 15;199(10):1514-24. Click here to read the article on PubMed.

Manuscripts

Zizipho Z.A Mbulawa, Dianne J Marais, Leigh F Johnson, Andrew Boulle, David Coetzee and Anna-Lise Williamson. The Influence of human immunodeficiency virus and CD4 count on the prevalence of human papillomavirus in heterosexual couples. Submitted revised manuscript to Journal of General Virology, Ref VIR/2010/020669

Conferences & Congress Abstracts

  • Human immunodeficiency virus infection in women influence the low-risk human papillomavirus prevalence in their male partner but not high risk human papillomavirs prevalence. International union against sexually transmitted infection, 9-12 November 2009. Cape Town, South Africa
  • Z Z.A Mbulawa, D Coetzee, D Marais, I Gustavsson, M Hoffman, U Gyllensten, Al Williamson (2009) HIV AFFECTS HPV CONCORDANCE AND VIRAL LOAD IN COUPLES.  25th INTERNATIONAL PAPILLOMAVIRUS CONFERENCE MAY 8-14 2009, MALMÖ, SWEDEN
  • Z Z.A Mbulawa, D Coetzee, D Marais, I Gustavsson, M Kampupira, M Hoffman, U Gyllensten, Al Williamson MEN HAVE A HIGHER HPV VIRAL LOAD THAN WOMEN. 25th INTERNATIONAL PAPILLOMAVIRUS CONFERENCE MAY 8-14 2009, MALMÖ, SWEDEN

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