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Keywords:

  • competition;
  • human papillomavirus;
  • incidence rate ratio;
  • population;
  • serology

Abstract

To understand likelihood of type replacement after vaccination against the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types, we evaluated competition of the seven most common genital HPV types in a population sample of unvaccinated, fertile-aged Finnish women. First trimester sera from two consecutive pregnancies were retrieved from 3,183 Finnish women (mean age, 23.1 years) of whom 42.3% had antibodies to at least one HPV type (6/11/16/18/31/33/45) at the baseline. Antibody positivity to more than one HPV types by the second pregnancy was common among the baseline HPV seropositives. However, compared to baseline HPV-seronegative women, significantly increased incidence rate ratios (IRRs), indicating an increased risk to seroconvert for another HPV type, were consistently noted only for HPV33 among baseline HPV16 or HPV18 antibody (ab)-positive women: HPV16ab only[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]16&33ab IRR 2.9 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6–5.4] and HPV18ab only[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]18&33ab IRR 2.5 (95% CI 1.1–6.0), irrespectively of the presence of antibodies to other HPV types at baseline: HPV16ab[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]16&33ab IRR 3.2 (95% CI 2.0–5.2) and HPV18ab[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]18&33ab IRR 3.6 (95% CI 2.1–5.9). Our findings suggest a possible competitive advantage for HPV33 over other genital HPV types in the unvaccinated population. HPV33 should be monitored for type replacement after HPV mass vaccination.