• human papillomavirus;
  • variants;
  • persistence


Variants of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 31 have been shown to be related both to risk of cervical lesions and racial composition of a population. It is largely undetermined whether variants differ in their likelihood of persistence. Study subjects were women who participated in the ASCUS-LSIL Triage Study and who had a newly detected HPV31 infection during a two-year follow-up with six-month intervals. HPV31 isolates were characterized by sequencing and assigned to one of three variant lineages. Loss of the newly detected HPV31 infection was detected in 76 (47.5%) of the 160 women (32/67 with A variants, 16/27 with B variants and 28/66 with C variants). The adjusted hazard ratio associating loss of the infection was 1.2 (95% CI, 0.7–2.1) for women with A variants and 2.1 (95% CI, 1.2–3.5) for women with B variants when compared with those with C variants. Infections with A and C variants were detected in 50 and 41 Caucasian women and in 15 and 23 African-American women, respectively. The likelihood of clearance of the infection was significantly lower in African-American women with C variants than in African-American women with A variants (p = 0.05). There was no difference in the likelihood of clearance between A and C variants among Caucasian women. Our data indicated that infections with B variants were more likely to resolve than those with C variants. The difference in clearance of A vs. C variants in African-Americans, but not in Caucasians, suggests a possibility of the race-related influence in retaining the variant-specific infection.