Many Sexual Partners Increases the Risk of HPV Transmission

by Ann-Britt on June 30, 2009

A recent study among soldiers shows that the HPV virus is just as prevalent in men as in women. HPV or human papilloma is considered the primary cause of cervical cancer and the virus is transmitted sexually.

The study is the first to look at the risk of new HPV viral infections and chronic HPV virus in men. And it shows that the virus is equally prevalent in men as in women.

-We know much less about the spread of HPV virus in men than in women, but with this study, we can see how the HPV virus in men behave over time – and if they for example have a greater risk of developing new types of virus, if they once have been infected, says Professor Susanne Krüger Kjaer from the Danish Cancer Society, one of the researchers behind the study.

Risk of several types of viruses
374 male soldiers between 18 and 29 years participated in the survey, which have included cell samples from the penis for HPV study, questionnaires on lifestyle and Chlamydia tests. Researchers investigated both new HPV virus and chronic HPV virus in men. By the study’s start were 33 percent of the soldier HPV-positive. After six months the soldiers were tested again, and here was a further 14 percent tested HPV positive.

-The study shows that those who already had HPV-positive from the start, had a much greater risk of developing several types of HPV virus. And while we see that the number of sexual partners is essential for the men without incurring HPV infection: The more sexual partners, the higher the risk of HPV transmission “says Susanne Krüger Kjaer.

The researchers also showed that just as in women, the risk for chronic HPV infection increased if they had a so-called high-risk HPV type, and if they were smoking.

Serious consequences for women
HPV infection transmitted through sexual contact and is probably the most common sexually transmitted infection. A Danish study shows that up to 20-30 percent young Danish women are infected. It is also reported that as much as 50-80 percent of all sexually active people in their lifetime will have been infected with HPV at some point.

In men, HPV can give genital warts, but it is extremely rare that it develops into cancer (eg. Penile cancer). In contrast, the infection often have severe consequences for women, because – in addition to genital warts – can have severe cell changes on the cervix and cervical cancer, “says Susanne Krüger Kjaer.

In most women the virus disappears again by itself after 6-12 months. But in some cases developing infection to become chronic, and in those cases there is a risk for the development of cell changes on the cervix, which at worst can become cervical cancer. Among women with cervical cancer, the HPV virus is detected in 99 percent of the cancer cells.

HPV virus is usually without any symptoms and yet there is no effective treatment for it. What is being treated, the cell, which can cause infection. Unfortunately, condoms do not protect 100 percent against the virus.

The world’s first cancer vaccine
Researchers in the Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company MSD currently work to test a vaccine to prevent chronic HPV infection. Study carried out in collaboration with researchers in other Nordic countries and in South and North America, covers a total of 12,000 women who received either active vaccine or placebo. The vaccine has been proved to be successful, and it is the first cancer vaccine in the world.

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