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Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Nov 28;67(12):1861-1867. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy376.

Viral Load in the Natural History of Human Papillomavirus Infection Among Men in Rural China: A Population-based Prospective Study.

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Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education/Beijing), Laboratory of Genetics, Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute, Beijing, People's Republic of China.



High-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) load is predictive of HR-HPV persistence and subsequent carcinogenesis in women. However, in men, data on genital HPV load and its effect on the natural history of HPV infection are limited.


The subjects included 1532 men aged 25-65 years with up to 7 biannual visits for evaluation of genital HPV load in rural China during 2009-2013 who were positive for ≥1 of the 18 selected HPV types (including 10 HR-HPV types) detected by general primer-mediated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. Type-specific HPV load was quantified with real-time PCR and dichotomized based on median values.


Men with multiple lifetime sex partners were more likely to have higher overall levels of HR-HPV load across visits (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12-5.24; 2 partners vs 0-1 partner). Higher levels of HR-HPV load at the time of the first HPV diagnosis conferred an increased probability of the subject remaining type-specific HPV-positive up to 12 months and an increased probability of persistent/intermittent infection (virus detected repeatedly with or without a period of intercurrent negativity) versus transient infections (single-time positive). Higher overall HR-HPV levels were predictive of reduced HR-HPV clearance rates (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, .27-.83).


Having multiple lifetime sex partners is associated with increased male genital HR-HPV load. Higher HR-HPV load predicts persistence of HR-HPV in men from rural China.


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