Objectives Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are common in adolescent women, while the rare cancerous sequelae of HPV infections do not generally occur until the 4th or 5th decades of life. This prospective study of a cohort of adolescent women was performed to further our knowledge of the natural history of incident and prevalent HPV infections.
Methods Self-vaginal swabs collected from high-risk, unvaccinated adolescent women in a longitudinal study were analysed for HPV DNA. Sera were collected at enrolment and later tested for HPV antibodies. Statistical analysis was performed to determine the HPV genotype distribution and duration of detection, and to determine rates of seropositivity and seroconversion for HPV types represented in the assays.
Results 146 subjects (mean enrolment age=15.4 years; mean duration of follow-up=5.8 years) had samples adequate for analysis of HPV detection, and 95 of these subjects had paired sera available. The cumulative prevalence for high-risk and low-risk HPV types was 95.9% and 91.1%, respectively. HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 (HPV types represented in the quadrivalent vaccine) were found at some point in 40.4%, 6.2%, 48% and 24% of participants, respectively. Serological data confirmed exposure to these vaccine-covered types, as well as to other high-risk HPV types.
Conclusions In this cohort of adolescent women, high- and low-risk HPV types were frequently detected, and serological data confirmed exposure in most subjects. The high-prevalence HPV types represented in the quadrivalent HPV vaccine further support vaccination of women at an age well before sexual debut.