Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Most Oral HPV Infections Are in Men

A young man meets with his doctor. 

CHICAGO — The majority of people who have infections of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) in their mouths are men, a new study suggests.

The researchers looked at more than 9,000 U.S. men and women who tested positive for an oral HPV infection, and found that 78 percent of them were men.

When the researchers looked at the types of HPV that are linked to cancer, they found that 82 percent of people who tested positive for this risky group of viruses were men, according to the study presented here today (June 1) at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. 

The researchers also looked at racial backgrounds and ethnicities of the people with high-risk, oral HPV infections and found that 61 percent were white, 12 percent were black, and about 15 percent were Hispanic.

HPVs are a group of more than 150 related viruses that infect different parts of the body, including the genital areas of men and women, as well as the mouth and throat. Most cases of HPV infection are harmless and resolve on their own. However, sometimes HPVs can cause health problems, such as genital warts, and certain HPV types are linked to cancer, for example cervical and penile cancer, as well as throat cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers estimate that 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, but some studies have suggested as many as two-thirds of healthy Americans have an HPV infection on some part of their body, including the skin, mouth, genitals or intestines.

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