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Research Shows Men Can Get Oral HPV Infection From Women

Virus could put them at raised risk for throat cancers, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Men are at increased risk for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection if their female sex partners have oral and/or genital HPV infections, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

For the study, researchers looked at 222 men and their female partners, and found that the overall rate of oral HPV infection among the men was 7.2 percent. Rates were higher among those who had a female sex partner with oral HPV infection (28.6 percent) and/or genital HPV infection (11.5 percent), had multiple sex partners (17.9 percent), or were smokers (12.2 percent). Of the 222 men in the study, 130 had a sex partner with a genital HPV infection. There were no HPV infections among the 52 men who never smoked, were in single-partner relationships, and whose partner was free of oral or genital HPV.

In addition, the researchers found that the rate of infection with HPV16 was 2.3 percent among all the men in the study and 6.1 percent among the 33 men whose sex partners had genital HPV16 infection. The more often men performed oral sex on their partner, the more likely they were to be infected with the type of HPV present in the genitals of that partner, the study authors noted in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

"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," lead researcher, Eduardo Franco, Dr.P.H., from McGill University in Montreal, said in the news release. "Our work provides additional evidence that HPV is sexually transmitted to the oral tract through oral-oral and oral-genital contact."

The study was funded in part by Merck (maker of Gardasil).

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