Genital Transmission of Human Papillomavirus in Recently Formed Heterosexual Couples

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We estimated human papillomavirus (HPV) transmission rates among persons with documented sexual exposure to an infected partner. Recently formed couples enrolled in the HITCH Study (HPV Infection and Transmission among Couples through Heterosexual activity) in Montreal, Canada, and provided genital specimens for DNA testing of 36 HPV genotypes. At enrollment, 179 couples were discordant for ≥1 HPV types; transmission was observed at follow-up in 73 partnerships. There was little difference between the male-to-female (3.5 per 100 person-months, 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.7–4.5) and female-to-male (4.0 per 100 person-months, 95% CI, 3.0–5.5) transmission rates. Rates did not vary with the lifetime number of partners reported by the initially uninfected partner, providing no evidence of reduced susceptibility for those with extensive sexual histories. Transmission was also relatively homogeneous across HPV genotypes and alpha species and oncogenic risk categories. The findings contribute to a small but growing evidence base regarding the natural history of HPV transmission.

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