Objectives Data on the seroprevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in China are limited. The objective of this study was to characterise the serological profiles of HPV infection in a rural Chinese population and help establish effective vaccine policy.
Methods Serum antibodies against the major capsid protein L1 of 10 HPV types (HPV-3, 6, 11, 16, 18, 45, 52, 57, 58 and 75) were evaluated with Luminex-based multiplex serology in a population-based study of 5548 adults (including 1587 couples) aged 25–65 years enrolled from rural Anyang, China, in 2007–2009.
Results The seroprevalence for any HPV type and any of the types HPV-6/11/16/18 was 64.8% and 34.4%, respectively. 30.3% of adults were seropositive for any mucosal high-risk (HR) HPV, and HPV-58 (10.6%), HPV-16 (9.7%) and HPV-18 (9.3%) were the three most common types. 24.8% of seropositive individuals were positive for multiple mucosal HR-HPV serotypes. Seroprevalence for most HPV types was similar among men and women. While mucosal low-risk HPV seropositivity was found to significantly decrease with age, the prevalence of antibodies to mucosal HR antigens showed a general trend of increase with age. The lifetime number of sex partners was independently associated with mucosal HR-HPV seropositivity. Positive correlation of spousal seropositivity was observed for mucosal HPV but not for cutaneous HPV.
Conclusions HPV infection was common in both men and women in rural China. HPV seroprevalence differed significantly with age, sexual behaviour and spousal infection status. These findings will be useful for evaluating and establishing HPV vaccination programmes.