Background: Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a cause of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, yet little is known about the epidemiology and natural history of infection.
Methods: At a baseline and 3-month follow-up visit, 1000 young adults aged 18 to 30 years provided an oral rinse sample and completed a survey assessing demographic and behavioral risk factors. The oral rinse sample was analyzed for 37 types of HPV by use of a multiplex polymerase chain reaction assay. Factors associated with oral HPV detection were analyzed using univariate and bivariate logistic regression.
Results: The prevalence of oral HPV infection was 2.4% (95% CI: 1.4–3.4). Ever having consumed alcohol (OR, 0.2; 95% CI: 0.1–0.8), 5 or more lifetime open-mouth kissing (OR, 4.0; 95% CI: 1.1–14.8) or lifetime oral sex (OR, 4.0; 95% CI: 1.3–11.9) partners were associated with infection, controlling for lifetime vaginal sex partners. The incidence rate for oral HPV infection was 5.67 (95% CI: 3.12–8.16) per 1000 person-months. Incident infection was associated in univariate analysis with black race (OR, 4.7; 95% CI: 1.7–13.5) and having open-mouth kissed a new partner in the previous 3 months (OR, 2.6; 95% CI: 1.0–6.4).
Conclusions: This study provides further evidence that oral sexual contact in the form of both oral-oral and oral-genital contact could play a role in the transmission of oral HPV.