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Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D.

Oral HPV in Men

By November 19, 2012

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An interesting article published in the November issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Disease examined the incidence rates of oral HPV in men. The study followed over 200 male university students for a year and a half, checking for oral HPV infections every four months. The bad news is that, at the start of the study, 7.5 percent of men were infected with HPV in their oral cavities, and another 12.3 percent became infected over the next 18 months. The good news is that most of the infections were transient, going away within a few months. Transient infections are not the ones that generally lead to cancer.

When the scientists looked at which men were most at risk of oral HPV infection, the results were not surprising. Men were more likely to be orally infected with HPV if they had recently had oral sex, had anal sex with another man, or were infected with the same type of HPV in their genitals. More disturbingly, if also not unexpected, oral HPV was also highly associated with men having HPV under their fingernails. Still, I'm glad the scientists thought to look, and knowing that does provide additional motivation for me to recommend the use of gloves for penetrative sex.

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