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Are human papillomavirus DNA prevalences providing high-flying estimates of infection? An international survey of HPV detection on environmental surfaces
  1. Vitaly Smelov1,2,
  2. Carina Eklund1,
  3. Laila Sara Arroyo Mühr1,
  4. Emilie Hultin1,
  5. Joakim Dillner1
  1. 1 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2 Department or Urology and Andrology, North-Western State Medical University named after I.I. Mechnikov, St. Petersburg, Russia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vitaly Smelov, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Forskningsgatan F56, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, Stockholm 141 86, Sweden; vitaly.smelov{at}

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Most epidemiological studies of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections rely on HPV DNA detection. Recent studies have reported very high prevalence and acquisition rates in men.1 However, presence of HPV DNA is not proof of infection, as it might represent environmental contamination.

Studies of HPV DNA on environmental surfaces could provide insights of the possible magnitude of this problem. We studied surfaces that frequently contact anogenital skin: toilet seats in airport restrooms. Apparently clean seats in 23 airports located in 13 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands, Russia, …

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  • Contributors Designed the experiments: VS. Collected the data: VS, CE, EH, LSAM. Performed the experiments: VS, CE, LSAM. Analyzed the data: VS, CE, JD, EH, LSAM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: VS, CE, JD. Wrote the paper and coordinated the study: VS, JD. Managed the HPV database: VS, CE.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.