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June 5, 1991

The Detection of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection Using Polymerase Chain Reaction-Reply

JAMA. 1991;265(21):2809-2810. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460210055024

In Reply.—  Dr Lörincz's letter highlights some of the key issues of ongoing HPV studies. How many HPV types have yet to be identified and characterized? Which of these are associated with disease? Are any HPVs ubiquitous? Our PCR method1 allows the detection and distinction of numerous HPV types, including novel ones, permitting epidemiologic study of their prevalence and clinical significance. The identification of novel viral pathogens during the last decade has been a humbling but valuable lesson. Without conducting studies such as the one described in Bauer et al,2 these questions may remain unanswered.Any procedure, such as PCR, with the ability to detect single molecules must address the issue of false positives. Based on our analysis of extensive negative control specimens (as described in detail),2 we maintain our conclusion that most, if not all, of the PCR results reflect the presence of HPV in the