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Keywords:

  • cervical cancer;
  • vaccination;
  • population-based follow-up;
  • cohort study;
  • cervical neoplasia;
  • cancer registry;
  • human papillomavirus

Abstract

Vaccines against high-risk (hr) human papillomaviruses (HPVs) causing cervical cancer may soon be licensed. Thus, nature of HPV epidemics needs to be studied now. Random sampling for studies on HPV epidemiology was done from all 230,998 women belonging to the population-based Finnish Maternity Cohort and having a minimum of 2 pregnancies between 1983 and 1994. First pregnancy serum specimens were retrieved for 7,805 subjects, and were analyzed for antibodies to HPV6/11, 16 and 18 with standard ELISAs. HPV16 seroprevalence almost doubled from the 1980s to the 1990s, and the epidemic spread to new areas in 23–31 year olds, i.e. the bulk of pregnant female population in the southwest part of the country. The HPV16 epidemic in the 14–22 year olds in 1983–1988 (1961–1974 birth cohorts) and in the 23–31 year olds in 1989–1994 (1958–1971 birth cohorts) overlapped with strong clustering of HPV16 and HPV18 infections in the latter (odds ratio 8.0, 95% confidence interval 6.6–9.7). Similar clustering of HPV16 and HPV6/11 infections was not found. The epidemic and the clustering may be due to high transmission probability of the hrHPV types and increase in sexual activity of the index birth cohorts. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.