Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Serological prevalence and persistence of high-risk human papillomavirus infection among women in Santiago, Chile

Felipe A Castro17, Angelica Dominguez2, Klaus Puschel2, Vanessa Van De Wyngard2, Peter JF Snijders3, Silvia Franceschi4, Michael Pawlita5 and Catterina Ferreccio26*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 6120 Executive Blvd, Rockville, MD 20852, USA

2 Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Marcoleta 434, Santiago 8330073, Chile

3 Department of Pathology, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 cours Albert Thomas, 69372 Lyon cedex 08, France

5 Division of Genome Modifications and Carcinogenesis, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, Heidelberg D-69120, Germany

6 Centro FONDAP/Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases (ACCDiS), Marcoleta 434, Santiago 8330073, Chile

7 Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 581, Heidelberg 69120, Germany

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:361  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-361

Published: 3 July 2014



Human papillomavirus (HPV) serology is a main factor for designing vaccination programs and surveillance strategies; nevertheless, there are few reports of HPV seroprevalence in the general population, especially in Latin America. This study aimed to describe high-risk HPV serological prevalence, persistence, and association with concurrent cervical infection, in Chilean women.


1021 women from the general population, aged 15–85 years, were studied in 2001 of whom 600 were reexamined in 2006. The assessments at both time points included cervical HPV DNA testing, HPV antibody testing, cervical cytology and a sociodemographic/behavioral questionnaire. HPV DNA and antibodies against L1 protein of types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 45, 52, and 58 were assessed by reverse line blot and multiplex serology, respectively.


Seropositivity was high at both baseline (43.2%) and follow-up (50.2%) and increased with age (p < 0.001); corresponding DNA prevalences were 6.7% and 8.7%. DNA and seroprevalence were associated at baseline (p = 0.01 for any HPV). Early age at first sexual intercourse and having had two or more sexual partners were independently associated with seropositivity. Most (82.0%) initially seropositive women remained seropositive at follow-up; 21.6% of initially seronegative women seroconverted, reaching 17.5% among women older than 60 years of age. ASCUS or worse cytology was correlated with HPV DNA positivity but not with HPV seropositivity.


HPV seroprevalence studies are a useful tool for learning about the dynamics of HPV infection in a community. This study contributes to understanding the natural history of HPV infection and provides a baseline assessment before the incorporation of HPV vaccination into a national program.

Human papillomavirus; Seropersistence; Cohort; Serology; Antibodies; Natural history