Institute for Global Health


HPV Sampling Study

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.

Links to other research

Other research from the UCL Centre for Clinical Research in Infection and Sexual Health

Other research from IGH on HPV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

Other research from IGH in the UK