HPV: The 4 Types Of Men Who Are Most At Risk

According to the most recent data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 11 million American men are infected with oral human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cancers of the head, neck and throat.

That equates to 1 in 9 U.S. males aged 18 to 69. And infection is most likely for those who have had multiple oral sexual partners, are gay or bisexual, or who also have genital HPV infection, a team of U.S. researchers found.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes). 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.

How is HPV spread?
You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first became infected.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

The most common cancer caused by the sexually transmitted virus is oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, a head and neck cancer that’s far more common in men than women, according to the study.

While it is somewhat rare for men to contract oral oncologic human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, there are four types of men who are most susceptible to infection.

HPV16 is associated with the growing increase of oropharyngeal cancer in the world, most notably in the U.S., Sweden, and Australia, where it causes more than 50% of cases, noted the international team of researchers.

However, prevalent oral HPV16 infection is rare and occurs in only 1% of cancer-free people. In recent studies of oral HPV infections in the U.S., such infections occurred three times more in men than women, similar to the gender ratio for oropharyngeal cancer.

Persistent oral HPV16 infection might be a precursor to oropharyngeal cancer, similar to how persistent cervical HPV infections can lead to cervical cancer, the study authors noted.

The Types Of Men Most At Risk

According to a recent major study, single men and smokers face higher risks of developing HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer. Bisexual men and college-educated men also showed an increased risk of acquiring oral HPV infections.

The rates were also significantly higher for the men who were divorced, separated, or widowed than in those who were married or cohabiting.

However, men who had had 20 or more sexual partners did not have a significantly increased risk of acquiring any oral HPV infections, the study authors noted. Marital status seems to be more predictive of oral HPV acquisition than does lifetime number of sexual partners.

The researchers also found that oral sex and alcohol consumption were not significantly associated with oral HPV infections.

Impact Of Smoking

Although epidemiological data suggest that tobacco use is the main cause of head and neck cancers overall, it is not a strong risk factor for HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer, according to researchers.

However, cigarette smoking was significantly associated with acquisition of oral HPV in healthy men. And the risk of…