Cervical HPV Infection in Female Sex Workers: A Global Perspective

Melissa Soohoo1, Magaly Blas2, Gita Byraiah3, Cesar Carcamo2, Brandon Brown*, 1
1 Program in Public Health, University of California, Irvine, USA
2 Unit of Epidemiology, HIV and STD, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Perú
3 Cooper Medical School, Rowan University, New Jersey, USA

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© Soohoo et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Program in Public Health, University of California, Irvine, 653 E. Peltason Dr., AIRB Rm. 2024, Irvine, CA 92697-3957, USA; Tel: (949) 824-6996; Fax: (949) 824-0529; E-mail:



Approximately 291 million women worldwide are HPV DNA carriers. Studies have indicated that having multiple sexual partners may lead to higher HPV transmission. Thus female sex workers (FSWs) may be at greater risk of infection compared to the general population. Herein we review publications with data on FSW cervical HPV test results. We also examine variations of HPV prevalence and risk behaviors by region. Knowledge of prevalent HPV types in FSWs may lead to improved prevention measures and assist in understanding vaccination in high-risk groups.


We conducted a review of the literature by searching PUBMED using the terms “prostitution” or “female sex workers”, “human papillomavirus” or “HPV”, and “prevalence” or “PCR” to find articles. We excluded studies without HPV testing or HPV type specific results, or unconventional HPV testing.


A total of 35 peer-reviewed publications were included in our review. High risk HPV types 16 and 18 ranged from 1.1-38.9‰ in prevalence. In addition to high-risk HPV types, newer studies reported non-carcinogenic HPV types also of high prevalence. The most prevalent HPV types reported among FSWs included HPV 6 (11.5%), 16 (38.9%), 18 (23.1%), 31 (28.4%), 52 (32.7%), and 58 (26.0%).


Female sex workers have an overall high prevalence of HPV infection of high-risk types as evident through various testing methods. FSWs are thought to be at increased risk of cervical cancer because of high HPV exposure. This highlights the need for HPV and cervical prevention campaigns tailored to FSWs.

Keywords: : Female sex workers, genotype, HPV, PCR, prevalence, prostitution..