HPV infections among young MSM visiting sexual health centers in the Netherlands: Opportunities for targeted HPV vaccination

Petra J. Woestenberg*, Birgit H.B. van Benthem, Johannes A. Bogaards, Audrey J. King, Fiona R.M. van der Klis, Hella Pasmans, Suzan Leussink, Marianne A.B. van der Sande, Christian J.P.A. Hoebe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: In 2009, girls-only HPV16/18 vaccination was introduced in the Netherlands which has achieved 46–61% uptake. Heterosexual men have benefitted from herd protection, but it is unknown whether men who have sex with men (MSM) also benefit from herd effects of the girls-only HPV16/18 vaccination program. Because MSM bear a high HPV-related disease burden, countries might consider targeted vaccination for MSM. To study possible herd effects and prior HPV exposure at a potential moment of vaccination, we assessed trends in the HPV prevalence and proportions (sero)negative for the various vaccine types among young MSM visiting sexual health centers (SHCs). Methods: We used data from MSM included in PASSYON study years 2009–2017. In this biennial cross-sectional study among visitors of SHCs aged 16–24 years, MSM provided a penile and anal swab for HPV DNA testing (including vaccine types HPV6/11/16/18/31/33/45/52/58) and blood for HPV antibody testing (HPV16/18/31/33/45/52/58). Results: In total 575 MSM were included, with a median of 22 years of age and 15 lifetime sex partners and 3.5% HIV positive. Trends in penile or anal HPV prevalence during 2009–2017 were statistically non-significant for all vaccine types. Of the 455 MSM with a penile and anal swab, 360 (79%), 283 (62%) and 242 (53%) were HPV DNA negative at both anatomical sites for HPV16/18, HPV6/11/16/18 and HPV6/11/16/18/31/33/45/52/58 respectively. Among MSM who were HPV16/18 and HPV16/18/31/33/45/52/58 DNA negative and were tested for serology (n = 335 and 279 respectively), 82% and 71% were also seronegative for the respective types. Discussion: There were no significant declines in the HPV prevalence among MSM up to eight years after introduction of girls-only HPV16/18 vaccination, indicating that MSM are unlikely to benefit largely from herd effects from girls-only vaccination. Most MSM were vaccine-type DNA negative and seronegative, suggesting that vaccination of young MSM visiting SHCs could still be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3321-3329
Number of pages9
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2020

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