OBJECTIVE--To assess prevalence, incidence and potential risk factors of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection among heterosexual men and women with multiple partners and to identify niches of HPV-infection. DESIGN--A prospective study of heterosexual men and women with multiple partners attending an STD clinic as participants in a study on HIV from May 1988 until January 1991. Routine STD examination and physical examination using colposcopy were performed, interviews with standardised questionnaires were administered. Specimens for HPV DNA detection by polymerase chain reaction were collected from multiple sites of the genital, anorectal and oral regions. In women cervical cytology was performed. SETTING--The STD Clinic of the Municipal Health Service of Amsterdam. PARTICIPANTS--162 women and 85 men entered the study, 110 women and 48 men were followed up. RESULTS--At entry of the study 37 (23%) women and 24 (28%) men were found positive for HPV DNA at any site. Only in one woman was oral presence of HPV DNA found during follow-up. Abnormal cervical cytology was observed in four women. In multivariate analysis, diagnosis of condylomata [odds ratio (OR) 5.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.86 to 16.90)], reporting genital dermatological abnormalities (OR 3.72, 95% CI 1.38 to 9.99) and age (OR per year 0.93, 95% CI 0.88 to 0.99) predicted independently the presence of HPV DNA in women at entry of the study. In women 59 of the 99 (60%) HPV infections were observed in the genital region and 40% in the anorectal region: in men these figures were 65% and 35%, respectively. The incidence of HPV infection was 47.1 and 50.5 per 100 person-years for women and men respectively. At least 20/99 (20%) infections in women were intermediate or long persistent and only 3/48 (6%) HPV infections in men (P = 0.03). No risk factor for persistency could be determined, either in women or in men. CONCLUSIONS--HPV infection was found to be a multicentric genital and/or anorectal event both in women and men. The oral presence of HPV DNA was detected only once in one of the participants. In women persistent HPV infection was more common than in men. Independent predictors for presence of HPV DNA in women were diagnosis of condylomata acuminata, reporting genital dermatologic abnormalities and age. Incidence of HPV infection in women turned out to be 47.1 infections per 100 person-years and for men 50.5 per 100 person-years.
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