Background: Previous findings regarding risk factors for human papillomavirus (HPV) persistence, other than viral determinants, identified from prospective cohort studies have been inconsistent in part because study designs have differed with respect to differing HPV detection methods and varying lengths of follow-up time. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to continue the search for epidemiologic risk factors of persistent cervical HPV infections and determine what behaviors differed between those women with transient HPV infections and those women who cannot clear their type-specific HPV infections.
Methods: Female university students (n = 621) in Montreal were followed for 24 months at 6-month intervals. At each visit, a cervical cell specimen was collected. HPV DNA was detected using the MY09/MY11 PCR protocol and 27 HPV genotypes were identified by the line blot assay (Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., Alameda, CA). Proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the crude and adjusted hazard ratios of clearing a type-specific high-risk (n = 222) or low-risk (n = 105) HPV infection over time according to specific baseline and time-dependent covariates.
Results: Daily consumption of vegetables seemed to increase the rate of HPV clearance independent of type. The use of tampons was associated with a reduced rate of high-risk HPV clearance, whereas regular condom use was associated with an increased rate of low-risk HPV clearance only.
Conclusion: Some proactive measures can be taken to increase the rate of HPV clearance, and there may be some differences between the sets of predictors of low-risk and high-risk HPV clearance.