Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in men who have sex with men: prevalence and lack of anogenital concordance

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Abstract

Objectives

To estimate the prevalence of oral detectable human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) attending a sexual health clinic in London and concordance with anogenital HPV infection. Such data are important to improve our understanding of the epidemiology of oral HPV and the potential use of vaccines to prevent oropharyngeal cancers.

Methods

Paired oral rinse samples and anogenital samples were available from 151 HIV-negative MSM within a larger cross-sectional survey. All samples were tested in parallel for 21 types of HPV DNA using an in-house assay.

Results

The median age of participants was 30 (IQR 25–35). The prevalence of any oral HPV and of high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) was 13.7% (n=21; 95% CI 8.7 to 20.2) and 5.9% (n=9; 95% CI 2.7 to 10.9) compared with 64.9% (n=98; 95% CI 56.7 to 72.5) and 34.4% (n=52; 95% CI 26.9 to 42.6) in any anogenital sample, respectively. The prevalence of types prevented by the bivalent (HPV16/18), quadrivalent (HPV6/11/16/18) and nonavalent (HPV6/11/16/18/31/33/45/52/58) vaccines was 1.3% (95% CI 0.2 to 4.7), 2.6% (95% CI 0.7 to 6.6) and 4.6% (95% CI 1.9 to 9.3), respectively. There was no concordance between HPV genotypes detected in oral and anogenital sites.

Conclusions

HR-HPV DNA, including HPV 16/18, was detected in oral specimens from HIV-negative MSM attending sexual health clinics, suggesting a potential role for vaccination, but is far less common than anogenital infection. How this relates to the risk and natural history of HPV-related head and neck cancers warrants further study. Lack of concordance with anogenital infection also suggests that oral HPV infection should be considered separately when estimating potential vaccine impact.

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