Solar UV radiation is the main risk factor for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), but infections with skin human papillomavirus (HPV) types have also been linked to the development of SCC. Little is known about the natural history of these infections and whether the seroprevalence of skin HPV types is affected by ambient or individual levels of sun exposure. This study investigated this by analysing sera for antibodies to 26 skin HPV types from five phylogenetic genera obtained from 807 healthy individuals from the Netherlands, Italy and Australia, countries with strong differences in sunlight intensity. Overall HPV seroprevalence was similar across the three countries (50-57% for β-HPV types, 40-48% for γ-HPV types), and the most frequent β-HPV and γ-HPV types were the same in all countries. The highest seroprevalences for 24 of the 26 skin HPV types were observed in Italy (14 types) and Australia (ten types). Seroprevalence among men was generally higher than among women, and the male sex was significantly associated with both β-HPV [odds ratio (OR) 2.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64-4.82] and γ-HPV (OR 2.42, 95% CI 1.40-4.18) antibodies in Australia. The only measure of sun sensitivity or UV exposure significantly associated with skin HPV seroprevalence was found for weekend sun exposure in Australia and β-HPV antibodies. It was concluded that type spectra and HPV seroprevalence are similar in countries with different sunlight intensity, and that levels of UV exposure do not play a strong role in the development of skin HPV antibodies in this study population.
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