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J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Dec;39(12):4344-8.

Prevalence of anti-human papillomavirus type 16, 18, 31, and 58 virus-like particles in women in the general population and in prostitutes.

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Laboratoire de Virologie Moléculaire, INSERM EMI-U 00-10 Protéases et Vectorisation, Faculté de Pharmacie, 37200 Tours, France.


Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is sexually transmitted. The aim of the study was to characterize serological responses to HPV types 16, 18, 31, and 58 by exploring type-specific virus-like particles (VLPs) in two groups of women with very distinct sexual behaviors. Anti-VLP antibodies for types 16, 18, 31, and 58 and HPV DNA in cervical cells were investigated with 177 prostitutes and 283 age-matched controls from the female general population in Spain. Anti-VLP positivity increased with number of lifetime sexual partners in women from the general population, and no seroresponse was found in virgins. However, in prostitutes HPV infection was characterized by higher multireactivity to three or four VLPs (25%) than the general population (3%) and by a more frequent antibody response to HPV-58 than in the general population. About 75% of the women seropositive for type 58 had been born in a Latin American country. Seroprevalence of HPV and cervical HPV DNA in prostitutes were 14 and 10 times higher than observed in women in the general population (prevalence odds ratio [POR] of HPV seropositivity, 14.04 [95%; CI = 8.4 to 23.6] and POR for HPV DNA, 10.4 [95% CI = 3.9 to 27.6). Our results indicate that prostitutes are at an increased risk of oncogenic HPV infections, and they confirm the validity of anti-VLPs as markers of present or past HPV infection, that the number of sexual partners is the major determinant in acquisition of oncogenic HPV, and that anti-VLPs could be used as a marker of repeated infection in prostitutes.

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