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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(6), 3928-3940;

Oral HPV Infection and Sexuality: A Cross-Sectional Study in Women

Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, PA 19111, USA
Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Magee Women’s Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
Institute of Translational Epidemiology, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY 10029, USA
Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, PA 15260, USA
Department of Epidemiology, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, NY 11203, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 March 2011 / Revised: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 3 June 2011 / Published: 10 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Full-Text   |   PDF [242 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the main risk factor for cervical cancers and is associated with close to 36% of oropharyngeal cancers. There is increasing evidence that oral HPV transmission is related to sexual behavior but to our knowledge studies that involve women who have sex with women have not been performed. We examined the prevalence of oral HPV according to sexual behavior among a population-based sample of 118 women and have made some inferences of possible predictors of oral HPV infection. Women were categorized as heterosexual (history of vaginal sex and/or oral sex with males only, n = 75), bisexual (history of vaginal sex and oral sex with females, n = 32) and other (no history of vaginal sex but oral sex with females [homosexuals], virgins and women with incomplete sexual exposure data, n = 11) The prevalence of oral HPV infection was 12/118 (10.2%) for the overall study population and was not significantly different between heterosexual and bisexual women (10.7% (8/75) vs. 12.5% (4/32), p = 0.784). There was no oral HPV detected among homosexual women, virgins or among women where sexual exposure was unknown. Never smokers were more likely to be oral HPV+ compared to former smokers (Adjusted Odds Ratio (Adj OR) = 0.1, 95% CI, 0.0–1.1) and there was no difference in risk between never smokers and current smokers (Adj OR = 0.7, 95% CI, 0.1–4.6). Twenty-five percent (3/12) of oral HPV+ women had a history of HPV and/or genital warts compared to 9% (10/106) of oral HPV-women (p = 0.104). For the women with a history of vaginal sex (n = 110), oral HPV status was statistically significantly different according to oral sex exposure (p = 0.039). A higher proportion of oral HPV-positive women reported that they had no history of oral sex exposure compared to oral HPV-negative women (4/12, 33% vs. 7/98, 8%). The prevalence of cervical HPV infection did not vary between heterosexuals and bisexuals (35.7% (25/70) vs. 35.5% (11/31), p-value 0.411) and for all other women the cervical HPV prevalence was significantly lower (11.1%, 1/9). Our study suggests that smoking and sexual behavior involving males rather than female partners may be possible predictors of oral HPV infection in women. Further studies with larger sample size are needed to confirm these findings. View Full-Text
Keywords: sexual behavior; HPV; oral; cervical sexual behavior; HPV; oral; cervical
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Ragin, C.; Edwards, R.; Larkins-Pettigrew, M.; Taioli, E.; Eckstein, S.; Thurman, N.; Bloome, J.; Markovic, N. Oral HPV Infection and Sexuality: A Cross-Sectional Study in Women. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12, 3928-3940.

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