Low-level persistence of human papillomavirus 16 DNA in a cohort of closely followed adolescent women

B. Weaver, M. Shew, B. Qadadri, W. Tu, Y. Tong, C. Denski, J. D. Fortenberry, A. Ermel, D. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Most human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in young women become undetectable by standard assays after a few months. It is possible that many HPV infections do not actually clear, but persist at very low levels for years, becoming detected again later in life. The purpose of this study is to describe HPV 16 clearance, reappearance, and low-level persistence in a cohort of adolescent women. Adolescent women (N=66), not vaccinated against HPV, were recruited from 1998 to 2008 into a longitudinal study. Self-collected vaginal samples were obtained quarterly and tested for HPV by Linear Array HPV Genotyping Test (LA-HPV). To explore low-level persistence, a type-specific nested PCR for HPV 16 (TSN-PCR-16) was developed. Women with HPV 16 detected by LA-HPV had their negative swabs retested with TSN-PCR-16. Forty-two participants with HPV 16, followed for a mean of 6.3years, were analyzed. Using LA-HPV, the median duration of HPV 16 detection was 428 days (SD 852.5 days). TSN-PCR-16 detected HPV 16 during periods of LA-HPV non-detection in samples from many women. Using a combination of LA-HPV and TSN-PCR-16 results, the median duration of HPV 16 detection was 1,022.5 days (SD 943.7 days). The durations of detection differed significantly between the two methods (P=0.0042) with a mean difference of 434.5 days. In adolescent females, duration of HPV 16 detection was significantly longer when TSN-PCR-16 was combined with LA-HPV. Some apparently cleared HPV 16 could be shown to persist at low levels using nested PCR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1362-1369
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • Adolescence
  • Clearance
  • HPV
  • Longitudinal
  • Persistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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