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Low avidity of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 antibodies is associated with increased risk of low-risk but not high-risk HPV type prevalence

Proscovia B Namujju123*, Lea Hedman4, Klaus Hedman4, Cecily Banura5, Edward K Mbidde2, Dennison Kizito2, Romano N Byaruhanga67, Moses Muwanga8, Reinhard Kirnbauer9, Heljä-Marja Surcel1 and Matti Lehtinen3

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Oulu, Finland

2 Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe, Uganda

3 School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Finland

4 Department of Virology, University of Helsinki and Huslab, Helsinki, Finland

5 College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

6 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, San Raphael of St. Francis Hospital, Nsambya, Uganda

7 Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

8 Entebbe Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda

9 Department of Dermatology, Medical University Vienna, Austria

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:170  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-170

Published: 6 June 2011



Low avidity of antibodies against viral, bacterial and parasitic agents has been used for differential diagnosis of acute versus recent/past infections. The low-avidity antibodies may however, persist for a longer period in some individuals.


We studied the association of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 antibody avidity with seroprevalence to HPV types 6/11/18/31/33/45. Antibody avidity was analysed for 365 HPV16 seropositive pregnant Finnish and Ugandan women using a modified ELISA.

Low avidity of HPV16 antibodies was found in 15% of Finnish and 26% of Ugandan women. Ugandan women with low-avidity HPV16 antibodies had an increased risk estimate for HPV6/11 (odds ratio, OR 2.9; 95%CI 1.01-8.4) seropositivity but not to high-risk HPV types 18/31/33/45.


Association of the low avidity HPV16 antibody "phenotype" with possible susceptibility to infections with other HPV types warrants investigation.

antibody; avidity; genital infection; HPV; prevalence