Institute for Global Health


HPV Sampling Study

Dates: January 2018 - (ongoing)

UCL lead/Principal Investigator: Dr Diarmuid Nugent

Partners: Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

Location: UK

Funding: Public Health England

Contact: d.nugent@ucl.ac.uk

Project Summary 

This study attempts to find the best method to monitor rates of infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). 

MSM are at particularly high risk of HPV infection and HPV related anal cancer. Since 2016, vaccination against HPV has been offered to MSM attending selected sexual health clinics in England. From April 2018 vaccination is being extended to all sexual health clinics in England

HPV DNA is detectable on swabs taken from the anal canal in infected individuals. This test can be used for surveillance of HPV infection in MSM and therefore provide evidence of the impact of the vaccination programme in this group. 

Anal swabs are performed routinely for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoea (GC) testing in MSM, either as a single sample or by combining with a throat specimen and an aliquot of urine to form a "pooled" specimen. Residual sample material from these specimens will be used for HPV surveillance by testing for HPV DNA. This technique has advantages in terms of patient comfort (no additional samples required) and cost. However, the sensitivity of HPV detection in residual rectal or pooled samples in MSM is not known. This study will determine the sensitivity of residual rectal and pooled specimen testing for HPV, with the gold standard test, a dedicated anal swab for HPV as comparator.

Research Team

Dr Richard Gilson

Dr Sarah Pett

Dr Oliver Stirrup

Dr Andrew Copas




Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)


Further research