Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a strongly conserved DNA virus, highrisk types of which can cause cervical cancer in persistent infections. The most common type found in HPV-attributable cancer is HPV16, which can be subdivided into four lineages (A to D) with different carcinogenic properties. Studies have shown HPV16 sequence diversity in different geographical areas, but only limited information is available regarding HPV16 diversity within a population, especially at the whole-genome level. We analyzed HPV16 major variant diversity and conservation in persistent infections and performed a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) comparison between persistent and clearing infections. Materials were obtained in the Netherlands from a cohort study with longitudinal follow-up for up to 3 years. Our analysis shows a remarkably large variant diversity in the population. Wholegenome sequences were obtained for 57 persistent and 59 clearing HPV16 infections, resulting in 109 unique variants. Interestingly, persistent infections were completely conserved through time. One reinfection event was identified where the initial and follow-up samples clustered differently. Non-A1/A2 variants seemed to clear preferentially (P = 0.02). Our analysis shows that population-wide HPV16 sequence diversity is very large. In persistent infections, the HPV16 sequence was fully conserved. Sequencing can identify HPV16 reinfections, although occurrence is rare. SNP comparison identified no strongly acting effect of the viral genome affecting HPV16 infection clearance or persistence in up to 3 years of follow-up. These findings suggest the progression of an early HPV16 infection could be host related.