Difference in overall and age-specific prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus infection in Italy: Evidence from NTCC trial

Iacopo Baussano, Silvia Franceschi, Anna Gillio-Tos, Francesca Carozzi, Massimo Confortini, Paolo Dalla Palma, Margherita De Lillo, Annarosa Del Mistro, Laura De Marco, Carlo Naldoni, Paola Pierotti, Patrizia Schincaglia, Nereo Segnan, Manuel Zorzi, Paolo Giorgi-Rossi, Guglielmo Ronco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although among women a decreasing prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection with increasing age has been consistently observed in high-resource countries, different age profiles have been reported elsewhere.Methods: We compared the age profile of high-risk (HR)-HPV prevalence in nine different areas of Northern and Central Italy by studying the women recruited in the intervention arm of the New Technologies in Cervical Cancer study and tested by Hybrid Capture 2. Differences in the age-distribution of HPV infection were investigated in each centre by the joinpoint approach in a logistic model. 46,900 women aged 25 to 60 years were included in the analysis.Results: The HR-HPV age-standardised (on Italian population) prevalence ranged from 5.7% (Trento) to 10.3% (Ravenna). HR-HPV prevalence decreased as a logistic function of increasing age in 6 of 9 centres (Trento, Verona, Florence, Bologna, Imola, and Viterbo). The effect of age on HR-HPV prevalence slopes did not differ significantly among these 6 centres, whereas significant heterogeneity in intercepts (p <0.001) was found, reflecting different overall HR-HPV prevalence between centres. One significant joinpoint was observed in 2 centres (Padua and Ravenna), indicating that the decrease in HR-HPV prevalence by age was better described using a function composed with two logistic segments. In Padua HR-HPV prevalence decreased only slightly up to 39 years but showed a steep downturn thereafter. In Ravenna HR-HPV prevalence decreased steeply down to 45 years of age and then showed a plateau. Finally, in Turin two significant joinpoints were observed: prevalence decreased only after age 29 and showed a plateau after age 39.Conclusions: Our results showed substantial differences in overall and age-specific HR-HPV prevalence across Italian areas. These findings may be related to different timing of changes in sexual behaviours across regions. Age-specific HR-HPV prevalence in Italy does not support an influence of age per se.

Original languageEnglish
Article number238
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2013


  • Age-specific
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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