The cervical cancer burden in low and middle income countries make up about 80% of the total cervical cancer incidence worldwide. In Botswana the link between increased incidences of cervical cancer in HIV positive women has not been carefully explored. Furthermore there is an increased link between infectious disease and cancer as seen by additional recent studies including the presence of Merkel Cell Carcinomas linked to the Merkel Cell Polyoma virus. This underscores the importance of these agents and their contributions to the oncogenic process. Greater than 20% of human cancers are associated with infectious agents and that estimate is likely to be lower than the actual number. The advances in technology and approaches which include recovery of nucleic acids from tissues and other materials has greatly improved our ability to detect and confirm the identifications of these agents in associated cancers. The overall goal of the proposed studies in project #1 is to determine the contributions of infectious agents to development of cervical carcinomas in HIV positive women in Botswana. This dramatic increase in cervical cancer incidence in HIV-positive women in Botswana allows for the potential contributions of additional agents as well as the inflammatory response which together leads to a more rapid and proliferative response. Our project will take advantage of our unique 3 cohorts of women in Bostwana that allows us to monitor changes in the cervical flora from HPV and HIV-negative women to women with cervical cancer who are HIV and HPV positive. Our initial question will be to identify additional agents (microbial signature) which may be linked to development of cervical carcinomas in this population. Our working hypothesis is that multiple agents can contribute to the development of cervical carcinomas in HIV-positive women in Botswana and this can result in an inflammatory response (inflammatory signature) which synergistically leads to cervical carcinomas. We will utilize our newly developed combinatorial strategy which bridges microarray technology with high throughput sequencing. The identification of these agents will be followed by validation of the presence of these agents in tissues, transcription analysis of infected cells as well as analysis of the innate and adaptive inflammatory responses with the associated agents, and investigating the proliferative effects on these cells using an in vitro model system of primary cervical epithelial cells.

Public Health Relevance

Viruses have been linked to a number of human cancers. We will explore the natural history and pathogenesis of HPV infection in HIV infected women with cervical cancer in Botswana. Our goal is to identify associated agents that may have a contributory role in development of cervical cancer in HIV positive women in addition to HPV. Our developed technology will be able to identify agents using 3 unique cohorts of women in Botswana which spans the progression of the disease from sero-negative for HPV and HIV to the conversion to an HIV positive and HPV-positive patients with cervical cancer in Botswana.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-RPRB-O (M2))
Program Officer
Dominguez, Geraldina
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Pennsylvania
United States
Zip Code