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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1990 Aug;30(3):240-2.

Is genital human papillomavirus infection always sexually transmitted?

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Singapore General Hospital.


The occurrence of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection was studied prospectively by colposcopy and histology in 43 virginal and 162 sexually active women attending a colposcopy clinic. The study also included 111 husbands of the latter group. By colposcopic criteria, the prevalence of HPV infection was 51.1% in the virginal and 69.1% in the sexually active women. The prevalence was 77.1% among men whose wives had HPV infection compared to 13.3% among men whose wives did not have the infection (p less than 0.01). There was a strong association in genital HPV infection between husbands and wives as expected from a sexually transmissible disease. However, the high prevalence of the infection among the virginal women indicated that transmission of HPV by nonsexual modes was common. Genital HPV infection is ubiquitous and in women is not exclusively a venereal disease.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection of the genital tract was assessed in 205 women and 111 spouses by clinical exam, colposcopy and histological examination of punch biopsies. All were patients referred to the colposcopy clinic: 43 were virgins and 162 women were sexually experienced. Among the virgins 51.2% had colposcopic evidence of HPV infection, 9 had microwarts and 1 had condylomata acuminata. 86.4% of these were confirmed histologically. Among the sexually active women 69.1% had colposcopic evidence of HPV, 20.5% had microwarts and 4.5% had condylomata acuminata. 37 had neoplasia. 85.7% of Hpv cases were confirmed histologically, as were 8.0% of women without evidence of HPV. 77.1% of the 96 husbands whose wives were free of infection had HPV. Since many of the virgins, including 2 daughters of a woman with cervical cancer, had genital warts, HPV is probably transmitted by formites as well as by sexual contact.

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