In recent years, the medical field has been working to combat cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine. However, a recent study has found that the HPV subtypes that most often affect African American women are not combated by the vaccine.
Duke University School of Medicine researchers studied the HPV subtypes present in 572 women (280 black, 292 white) who participated in the Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Cohort Study, all of whom had abnormal Pap smears.
They specifically examined the subtypes present in the women’s cervical intraepithelial neoplasias or CIN. These are abnormalities that are considered precursors to cervical cancer. The purpose was to see what differences occur in early CIN (CIN1) and more advanced CIN (CIN2 and CIN3).
They found that the most common strains within all CIN levels were different amongst white and black women. According to the Huffington Post:
Right now, the currently available HPV vaccine targets HPV subtypes 16 and 18, which are the subtypes that most commonly cause cervical cancer. But “we found a much lower prevalence of HPV 16 and 18 in advanced CIN [CIN2 and 3] from African-American women. Rather, their CIN2 and 3 frequently harbored HPV 31, 35, 45, 56, 58, 66, and 68, all of which are linked to cervical cancer,” study researcher Cathrine Hoyo, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Duke, said in a statement.
However, Hoyo also noted that a vaccine that targets seven other cancer-linked subtypes is in phase3 clinical trials–though she didn’t mention if those subtypes include the ones that commonly plague African American women.