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

Medical Microbiological Labs, Public Health Service

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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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. (C) 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Vaccination
  • Herd protection
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Targeted vaccination
  • MEN
  • GAY


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