Human papillomavirus genotypes in cervical and other HPV-related anogenital cancer in Rwanda, according to HIV status

Tharcisse Mpunga, Marie Chantal Umulisa, Vanessa Tenet, Belson Rugwizangoga, Danny A Milner, Cyprien Munyanshongore, Daniëlle A M Heideman, Maaike C G Bleeker, Massimo Tommasino, Silvia Franceschi, Iacopo Baussano, Tarik Gheit, Felix Sayinzoga, Gary M Clifford

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20 Citations (Scopus)


The study aim was to describe human papillomavirus (HPV)-attributable cancer burden in Rwanda, according to anogenital cancer site, HPV type, age and HIV status. Tissue specimens of cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal cancer diagnosed in 2012-2018 were retrieved from three cancer referral hospitals and tested for high-risk (HR) HPV DNA. Cervical cancer represented the majority of cases (598 of 738), of which 96.0% were HR-HPV positive. HPV-attributable fractions in other cancer sites varied from 53.1% in 81 penile, through 76.7% in 30 vulvar, 83.3% in 24 vaginal, up to 100% in 5 anal cases. HPV16 was the predominant HR-HPV type in cervical cancer (55.0%), followed by HPV18 (16.6%) and HPV45 (13.4%). HPV16 also predominated in other cancer sites (60-80% of HR-HPV-attributable fraction). For cervical cancer, type-specific prevalence varied significantly by histology (higher alpha-9 type prevalence in 509 squamous cell carcinoma vs. higher alpha-7 type prevalence in 80 adenocarcinoma), but not between 501 HIV-negative and 97 HIV-positive cases. With respect to types targeted, and/or cross-protected, by HPV vaccines, HPV16/18 accounted for 73%, HPV31/33/45/52/58 for an additional 22% and other HR-HPV types for 5%, of HPV-attributable cancer burden, with no significant difference by HIV status nor age. These data highlight the preventive potential of the ongoing national HPV vaccination program in Rwanda, and in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. Importantly for this region, the impact of HIV on the distribution of causal HPV types was relatively minor, confirming type-specific relevance of HPV vaccines, irrespective of HIV status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1514-1522
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of cancer
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020


  • HIV
  • attributable fraction
  • cancer
  • epidemiology
  • human papillomavirus

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