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J Clin Virol. 2006 Jan;35(1):89-94. Epub 2005 Aug 19.

Natural history of oral papillomavirus infections in spouses: a prospective Finnish HPV Family Study.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Turku University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 52, FIN-20521 Turku, Finland.



The natural history of genital human papillomavirus infection is well known, but nearly nothing is known about the outcome of oral HPV-infection.


To study natural history of oral HPV in spouses during the follow-up 331 women (mean 25.5+/-3.4 years) and 131 men (mean 28.8+/-5.0 years) were recruited from maternity unit. Scrapings from healthy oral mucosa of spouses at baseline, 2, 6, 12 and 24 months and genital samples were taken for HPV testing. HPV DNA was detected by nested PCR and confirmed by hybridization using a cocktail of 12 high-risk (HR) oligoprobes.


The detection rate of HR HPVs varied from 15% to 27%. Baseline oral HPV status between the spouses was closely related (odds ratio 4.3; 95% confidence interval 1.6-12.0; P=0.006). Persistent oral infection in one spouse was a significant risk factor (odds ratio 10.0; 95% confidence interval 1.5-68.7; P=0.005) for oral HR HPV persistence in the other partner. Cumulative incidence of new HR HPV infections was identical in both spouses, while men seemed to clear their infection more rapidly. In univariate survival analysis, the partner's oral or genital HPV status, oral sex habits or age did not predict clearance or acquisition of oral HR HPV.


Natural history of HPV infection in oral mucosa mimics that of genital HPV infection. Oral sex had no association to oral HPV infection, but a persistent oral HPV infection of the spouse increased the risk of persistent oral HPV infection 10-fold in the other spouse.

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