The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the prevalence and genotype distribution of HPV infection in Beijing, China

J Med Virol. 2023 Oct;95(10):e29155. doi: 10.1002/jmv.29155.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections nationwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly influenced on the HPV prevention project. The objective of this study was to examine the influence of the pandemic on HPV prevalence and genotype distribution in Beijing, China. A total of 44 401 genital swabs were obtained from outpatients at Peking Union Medical College Hospital during two distinct periods: the prepandemic stage from January 2017 to December 2019 and the pandemic stage from January 2020 to December 2022. During the prepandemic and pandemic stages, a total of 33 531 and 10 870 swabs were respectively collected. Fifteen high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) DNA type and a combination of two low-risk (LR-HPV) types (6/11) of genital swabs were detected to compare the HPV infection rates and genotype distributions in two stages. The results showed that the pandemic period witnessed a decrease in the overall HPV infection rate from 33.43% (11 245/33 531) to 29.43% (5527/18 780) compared to the prepandemic. There were statistically significant differences in infection rates between females and males (p < 0.05). Single infection was the predominant type while multiple infection was more prevalent in males than females in both prepandemic and pandemic periods. HR-HPV infection constituted the majority of infections and cannot be disregarded. The distribution of HR-HPV genotypes exhibited little variation before and after the outbreak, but there were some differences between females and males. HPV 16, 52, 58, 56, and 66 were the most commonly detected genotypes in females, whereas HPV 16, 52, 51, 58, and 18 were frequently detected in males. Additionally, HPV 6/11 exhibited a higher prevalence in males than in females. Notably, the age group of 31-40 years old exhibited the highest prevalence of HPV and the lowest infection rate was detected among individuals aged ≤20 years (p < 0.05), which remained relatively consistent before and during the pandemic. These findings underscore the importance of monitoring the trend of HPV epidemic and offer valuable insights for the prevention, treatment, and scientific investigation of HPV in the post-COVID-19 era.

Keywords: COVID-19; genotype; human papillomavirus; impact; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beijing / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms*