Does anal HPV viral load explain the difference in anal HPV persistence between HIV-negative and -positive men who have sex with men (MSM)? MSM ≥18 years were recruited in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 2010-2011. Anal self-swabs were collected every 6 months and genotyped (SPF10-PCR-DEIA-LIPA25-system). HPV16 and HPV18 load was determined with a type specific quantitative (q)PCR, and compared between HIV-negative and -positive men using ranksum test. Persistence was defined as ≥3 positive samples for the same HPV-type. Determinants of persistent HPV16/18 infection and its association with HPV16/18 load were assessed with logistic regression. Of 777 recruited MSM, 54 and 22 HIV negative men were HPV16 and HPV18 positive at baseline, and 64 and 39 HIV-positive MSM. The geometric mean titer (GMT) of HPV16 was 19.6 (95%CI 10.1-38.0) and of HPV18 8.6 (95%CI 2.7-27.5) DNA copies/human cell. HPV16 and HPV18 load did not differ significantly between HIV-negative and -positive MSM (P = 0.7; P = 0.8, respectively). In multivariable analyses HPV16 load was an independent determinant of HPV16 persistence (OR 1.8, 95%CI 1.3-2.4). No difference in anal HPV viral load was found between HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM. HPV 16/18 viral load is an independent determinant of type-specific persistence.