Background: Alpha-human papillomavirus (α-HPV) plays a causal role in cervical cancer, but little is known about the epidemiology of genital Beta-human papillomavirus (β-HPV) infection. Methods: We used Luminex and PCR hybridization to detect band α-HPVs prevalence at enrollment and 12-month follow-up in cervical samples from 505 women enrolled in the Ludwig-McGill cohort study. We compared epidemiologic correlates of both band α-HPVs and compared genotypes between these genera with respect to co-occurrence and association with cervical cytologic abnormalities. Results: Infection with β-HPV types was more prevalent than that with α-HPV types at both visits (cumulative prevalences: 27.3% vs. 21.6%, respectively, P = 0.034). β-HPVs were mostly transient; however, only 1.98% women retained their original positivity at 12 months, whereas persistence was higher for α-HPVs (5.15%; P = 0.007). Age, parity, and sexual activity variables were predictors of α-HPV but not of β-HPV. α- and β-HPV types occurred independently. Increased risk of cervical abnormalities was restricted to women infected with a-9 or a-6 HPV types. We found no epidemiologic correlates for β-HPV infections. Conclusions: Detection of β-HPV types in the cervix tends to occur as random and transient episodes not explained via the sexual-transmission correlates that characterize infections by α-HPVs. Impact: Although it is plausible that β-HPVs may play a direct or indirect carcinogenic role, the lack of epidemiologic correlates for detection episodes of these viruses and lack of association with cervical lesions speak against their ancillary role as sexually transmitted agents in cervical carcinogenesis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 26(8); 1312-20.
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