Objective: Persistence of human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with an increased risk of developing cervical SIL and cancer in young women. Because this association in older, postmenopausal age women has received little attention, we evaluated persistence of HPV among women in this age group.
Methods: Women (n=105) ages 45-64 were examined annually for 7 years to evaluate HPV in cervical cytologic specimens. PCR, dot blot hybridization and DNA sequencing were used to detect HPV types.
Results: The cumulative prevalence of HPV was 34%, and 24% had HPV high-risk oncogenic types which are associated with genital cancers. The most common oncogenic types were HPV-16 (72%) and HPV-31 (16%). The persistence rate of HPV infection was 16%. No specific risk factors were associated with repeat viral positivity.
Conclusion: Postmenopausal women are infected with persistent oncogenic HPV at a substantial rate, supporting the need for continued screening in postmenopausal women to detect preneoplastic genital lesions.