High-risk human papillomavirus infection and abnormal cervical cytology among Nepali and Bhutanese refugee women living in eastern Nepal.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality among women in Nepal and Bhutan. Data on high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) infection and cervical abnormalities among Nepali and Bhutanese women are sparse. The objectives of this study were to assess and compare the prevalence of HR-HPV infection and cervical abnormalities among Nepali and Bhutanese women living in Jhapa District in eastern Nepal; and examine the risk factors for HR-HPV infection and cervical abnormalities in those women. METHODS: Study participants were recruited from a women's health camp organized by NFCC-International, a Nepal-based non-governmental organization, in 2014. Consenting participants were administered a demographic and health questionnaire and cervico-vaginal specimens collected. Both self-collected and clinician-collected cervico-vaginal specimens were tested for HR-HPV infection. Cytologic exam was performed on clinician-collected samples and cervical cytology results were categorized according to the Bethesda classification. A participant was classified as a Bhutanese if they were either born in Bhutan or currently lived in one of the United Nations administered Bhutanese refugee camps in Jhapa; otherwise, the participant was classified as a Nepali. RESULTS: Of the 647 study participants, 15.9% were Bhutanese women living in refugee camps and the overall age (± standard deviation) was 38.8 ± 8.2 years. The prevalence of HR-HPV infection was 8.9% and abnormal cervical cytology was 7.1% respectively, with no significant difference in HR-HPV positivity (p = 0.399) or abnormal cervical cytology (p = 0.698) between Nepali and Bhutanese women. Compared to women whose husbands had not migrated for employment, women whose husbands had migrated outside of the district had 3.30 times (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.13-9.64) the odds of being HR-HPV positive and women whose husbands had migrated outside the country had 2.92 times (95% CI: 1.32-6.49) the odds of having abnormal cervical cytology. CONCLUSIONS: HR-HPV positivity and abnormal cervical cytology were similar among Nepali and Bhutanese women. Husbands migrating for employment within or outside the country was a significant risk factor for high-risk HPV infection and cervical cytology, indicating the important role spousal behavior may play in HR-HPV acquisition and cervical abnormalities among these women.
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  • Abnormal cervical cytology, Bhutanese refugee, High-risk human papillomavirus, Nepal, Risk factors, Spousal migration, Adult, Aged, Bhutan, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Nepal, Papanicolaou Test, Papillomaviridae, Papillomavirus Infections, Prevalence, Refugees, Risk Factors, Specimen Handling, Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions of the Cervix, Uterine Cervical Neoplasms, Vaginal Smears, Women's Health, Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bhatta MP; Johnson DC; Lama M; Aryal S; Lhaki P; Shrestha S
  • Start Page

  • 73
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 1