Research Highlight

High EBV, CMV in women's genital tract

doi:10.1038/nindia.2011.130 Published online 31 August 2011

Researchers found high prevalence of the latent herpesviruses — Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) — in the genital tract of a population of periurban women, prompting them to suggest further studies on its biological and clinical implications.

While conducting a study of cervical cancer screening strategies among the population of women near Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, they collected cervical cells for cytological and virological investigation. They also examined the cervix with naked eye visual inspection after application of acetic acid (VIA).

They found that a positive VIA reading had a surprisingly low sensitivity (26.3%) and moderate specificity (76.4%) for the detection of cervical tumours. While there was no association between VIA results and the presence of EBV or CMV in the cervix, they found a high prevalence of both viruses: 20% for EBV and 26% for CMV.

Given the large number of false-positive VIA readings, the researchers inquired if these lesions might be occurring as a result of infections with EBV or CMV, known to be shed from the female genital tract. "The strong association between the presence of EBV and cervical disease warrants future exploration to determine whether EBV plays a causal role in disease development or if it is merely a bystander in the process," they say.


  1. Silver, M. I. et al. Shedding of Epstein-Barr Virus and Cytomegalovirus from the Genital Tract of Women in a Periurban Community in Andhra Pradesh, India. J. Clin. Microbiol. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02206-10 (2011)