Oral HPV Infection Prevalence in U.S. Close to 7 Percent

Prevalence higher in men than women; bimodal peaks at age 30 to 34 and 60 to 64 years

THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States, the prevalence of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is 6.9 percent, with higher prevalence in men than women, according to a study published online Jan. 26 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Maura L. Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the prevalence of oral HPV infection in the United States. DNA was extracted from oral exfoliated cells of 5,579 participants, aged 14 to 69 years, and assessed by polymerase chain reaction and type-specific hybridization.

The investigators found that the prevalence of oral HPV and HPV type 16 infection was 6.9 and 1.0 percent, respectively. With respect to age, oral HPV infection followed a bimodal pattern, with prevalence peaking at ages 30 to 34 years and 60 to 64 years (7.3 and 11.4 percent, respectively). Prevalence of any HPV infection was significantly higher for men than women (10.1 versus 3.6 percent). Infection was less common in those without a history of any type of sexual contact (0.9 percent) versus those with a history of sexual contact (7.5 percent). Prevalence increased significantly with the number of sexual partners and the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

"Natural history studies of cervical HPV infection were essential for the development of public health interventions, such as HPV vaccination to prevent and HPV detection to screen for cervical cancer," the authors write. "Natural history studies of oral HPV infection are therefore necessary to understand the effects of age, sex, and modifiable risk factors (e.g., smoking and sexual behavior) on the incidence and duration of oral HPV infection."

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, which partially funded this study.

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