We performed an international proficiency study of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 serology. A common methodology for serology based on virus-like particle (VLP) ELISA was used by 10 laboratories in 6 continents. The laboratories used the same VLP reference reagent, which was selected as the most stable, sensitive and specific VLP preparation out of VLPs donated from 5 different sources. A blinded proficiency panel consisting of 52 serum samples from women with PCR-verified HPV 16-infection, 11 control serum samples from virginal women and the WHO HPV 16 International Standard (IS) serum were distributed. The mean plus 3 standard deviations of the negative control serum samples was the most generally useful "cut-off" criterion for distinguishing positive and negative samples. Using sensitivity of at least 50% and a specificity of 100% as proficiency criteria, 6/10 laboratories were proficient. In conclusion, an international Standard Operating Procedure for HPV serology, an international reporting system in International Units (IU) and a common "cut-off" criterion have been evaluated in an international HPV serology proficiency study.
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