Redetection of human papillomavirus type 16 infections of the cervix in mid-adult life

Papillomavirus Res. 2018 Jun:5:75-79. doi: 10.1016/j.pvr.2018.01.001. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Purpose: To assess whether HPV 16 originally detected in adolescent women can be redetected in adulthood.

Methods: A convenience sample of 27 adult women with known HPV 16 detection during adolescence was assessed for HPV 16 redetection. A comparison of the long control region (LCR) DNA sequences was performed on some of the original and redetected HPV 16 isolates.

Results: Median age at reenrollment was 27.5 years (interquartile range of 26.7-29.6). Reenrollment occurred six years on average after the original HPV 16 detection. Eleven of 27 women had HPV 16 redetected. Some of these HPV 16 infections had apparently cleared during adolescence. LCR sequencing was successful in paired isolates from 6 women; in 5 of 6 cases the redetected HPV 16 isolates were identical to those detected during adolescence, CONCLUSIONS: HPV 16 may be episodically detected in young women, even over long time periods. HPV 16 redetection with identical LCR sequences suggests low-level persistent infection rather than true clearance, although newly acquired infection with an identical HPV 16 isolate cannot be excluded. However, this study suggests that a new HPV 16-positive test in a clinical setting may not indicate a new infection.

Keywords: Human papillomavirus (HPV); Latency; Long control region; Redetection; Sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cervix Uteri / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Female
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / isolation & purification*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Virus Activation*
  • Virus Latency


  • DNA, Viral