Prevalence of HPV in cytomorphologically normal cervical smears, as determined by the polymerase chain reaction, is age‐dependent

Peter W.J. Melkert, Adriaan J.C. van den Brule, Elle K.J. Risse, Paul J. van Diest, Chris J.L.M. Meijer, Jan M.M. Walboomers, Theo Helmerhorst, Ellen Hopman, Otto P. Bleker, Marguérite E.I. Schipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes in relation to age was investigated by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method in cytologically normal smears from 4 different groups of women. Group A consisted of young women from a district population, aged 15–34 years, using oral contraceptives and visiting general practitioners for a check‐up (n = 156); group B were asymptomatic women, aged 35–55, in a district population participating in a triennial screening program for cervical cancer (n = 1555); group C and D consisted of women, seen at the gynecological outpatient department for a wide spectrum of gynecological complaints or for control of their hormonal contraception, aged 15–34 years (n = 2320), and aged 35–55 years (n = 1826) respectively. An HPV (all types) prevalence of 14.1%, 4.1%, 13.9% and 6.6% and an HPV 16/18 prevalence of 3.8%, 0.9%, 3.3% and 1.5% were found in groups A, B, C and D respectively. Statistically significant differences (p value <0.001) in HPV prevalence were found between women aged 15–34 years and women aged 35–55 years in the district population and in the hospital population. No statistically significant differences in HPV 16/18 were observed after age‐matching between women in corresponding age‐classes of both populations. In a 5‐year interval analysis a strong age‐dependent relationship was demonstrated, with a maximum between 20 and 24 years. After the age of 35 a constant level of 1–2% HPV 16/18 was observed. These results indicate that genital HPV infections are age‐dependent and suggest that HPV infections at young age can be transient. The implications of these findings in the context of cervical cancer screening are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-923
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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