Men are at increased risk for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection if their female sex partners have oral and/or genital HPV infections, a new study shows.
The findings suggest that HPV transmission occurs through both oral-oral and oral-genital routes, according to the authors of the study.
“HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world and is a risk factor for several cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oropharyngeal [throat/tonsil], anal and penile cancers,” lead researcher, Eduardo Franco, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research. Franco is director of the division of cancer epidemiology and chairman of the department of oncology at McGill University in Montreal.
“Understanding how HPV is transmitted is important because it will help us identify who is most at risk for HPV infection and how we can help them protect themselves and their partners,” he explained. “Our work provides additional evidence that HPV is sexually transmitted to the oral tract through oral-oral and oral-genital contact.”
For the study, the researchers looked at 222 men and their female partners, and found that the overall rate of oral HPV infection among the men was just over 7 percent. Rates were higher among those who had a female sex partner with oral HPV infection (nearly 29 percent) and/or genital HPV infection (11.5 percent), had multiple sex partners (18 percent), or were smokers (12 percent).