Human papillomavirus (HPV) prevalence varies widely worldwide. We used a transmission model to show links between age-specific sexual patterns and HPV vaccination effectiveness. We considered rural India and the United States as examples of 2 heterosexual populations with traditional age-specific sexual behavior and gender-similar age-specific sexual behavior, respectively. We simulated these populations by using age-specific rates of sexual activity and age differences between sexual partners and found that transitions from traditional to gender-similar sexual behavior in women <35 years of age can result in increased (2.6-fold in our study) HPV16 prevalence. Our model shows that reductions in HPV16 prevalence are larger if vaccination occurs in populations before transitions in sexual behavior and that increased risk for HPV infection attributable to transition is preventable by early vaccination. Our study highlights the importance of using time-limited opportunities to introduce HPV vaccination in traditional populations before changes in age-specific sexual patterns occur.
Keywords: epidemiologic transition; heterosexuality; human papillomavirus 16; immunization; papillomavirus vaccines; sexual behavior; sexual partners; vaccination; viruses.