Evaluation of type-specific HPV persistence and high-risk HPV viral load quantitation in HPV positive women under 30 with normal cervical cytology



The persistence of high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) infection is necessary for the development of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. The aim of this study was to evaluate if HR-HPV typing and HPV16, 18, 31, and 33 quantitation are predictive for type-specific infection persistence and/or the development of CIN in women under 30 with normal cervical cytology. Young women (under 30) attending a family planning clinic who were HPV positive with normal cervical cytology were included. HPV genotyping was assessed by MY09/MY11 PCR, sequencing, phylogenetic analysis, and cloning when necessary. HR-HPV viral load was quantified using duplex real-time PCR. Study patients were offered for a second smear and HR-HPV detection and quantitation after 12 months. HR-HPV was identified in 43 (21.9%) of the 199 included women. Of these, 39 patients had a second cervical sample taken within a mean interval of 11.7 months (8.8–18.3 months). The mean HR-HPV 16, 18, 31, and 33 initial viral load was 1.9 × 106 copies/million cells. The level of viral load did not reveal any significant association with type-specific HR-HPV persistence or the subsequent development of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Only HPV16 infection was significantly more likely to persist (91.7% vs. 33.1%, P = 0.001) and to develop CIN (33.3% vs. 3.7%, P = 0.025). In women under 30 with normal cytology, HR-HPV viral load is common and is not predictive of HPV persistence or the development of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. HPV16 positive women are significantly more likely to have persistent infection and to develop cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. J. Med. Virol. 83:637–643, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.