An association between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical neoplasia has been widely reported and HPV DNA is commonly detected in cervical carcinoma tissues. However, estimates of the prevalence of HPV infection differs among various detection methods. Seventy cases of cervical carcinoma were screened for HPV 16 infection by Southern blot hybridisation (SBH) and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). According to SBH, the prevalences of HPV 16 DNA in stage I (n = 40) and stage II (n = 30) cervical carcinomas were 52.5 and 63.3%, respectively, and the overall prevalence was 57-1 % (40 of 70). By nested PCR, the prevalences of HPV 16 infection in stage I and II cervical carcinomas were 87.5 and 93.3 %, respectively, and the overall prevalence was 90.3%. The prevalence of HPV DNA detected by nested PCR was significantly greater than that detected by SBH. The combined concordance of positive and negative results between SBH and nested PCR was 61.4 %. The discrepancy resulted mainly from 25 cases (35.7%) that were positive by PCR but negative by SBH. A small copy number of HPV DNA in these 25 cases was documented by a semi-quantitative PCR method. The nested PCR was more sensitive than SBH and detected cases with low amounts of HPV DNA. The detection of HPV infection varied between these two prevailing detection methods and this should be kept in mind in assessing various epidemiological data concerning HPV infection.


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