Background: We performed a study to better characterize the natural history of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in a cohort of closely followed adolescent women.
Methods: A cohort of 60 adolescent women was followed over a 2.2-year period, on average. A median of 41.5 self-collected vaginal and clinician-obtained cervical swabs were obtained from each subject.
Results: HPV was detected in 45.3% of all adequate specimens, by use of a polymerase chain reaction/reverse blot strip assay. Oncogenic--or high-risk (HR)--HPV types were detected in 38.6% of specimens, and nononcogenic--or low-risk (LR)--types were detected in 19.6% of specimens. During the entire study period, 49 of 60 subjects tested positive for HPV (cumulative prevalence, 81.7%). The most frequently detected HR types were HPV types 52, 16, and 59. Infections with multiple HPV types were common. The median duration of persistence of a specific HPV type was 168 days, and HR types were more persistent than LR types. Abnormal cervical cytological results occurred in 37% of the adolescent women and were significantly associated with HR HPV infection.
Conclusions: The cumulative prevalence of HPV infection in sexually active adolescent women is extremely high, involves numerous HPV types, and frequently results in cervical dysplasia.