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Home HPV Research HPV Research High Rates of HPV Infection in Heterosexual Couples

High Rates of HPV Infection in Heterosexual Couples

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Young CoupleA Canadian study finds that in the majority of new heterosexual couples, at least one partner has HPV.

Lead author Eduardo Franco, MD, and colleagues recruited couples as part of the HITCH Cohort Study (HPV Infection and Transmission among Couples through Heterosexual Activity) at McGill University in Montreal. Subjects – consisting of heterosexual women between the ages of 18-24 and their male partners – were tested for 36 types of genital HPV and completed questionnaires about their sexual behavior. All couples had been in their relationship for six months or less.

Of 264 couples, 64% had HPV detected in at least one partner; in 41% of the couples, partners were found to have the same HPV type. The number of concordant HPV infections increased the longer couples had been sexually active. While acknowledging the high rate of shared HPV among partners may theoretically be due to chance, the investigators say this is highly unlikely and their findings point to “HPV being highly transmissible.” They add that understanding more about HPV acquisition may guide development of models that look at the cost and impact of interventions such as HPV vaccines.

A Burchell, P Tellier, J Hanley, F Coutlée, EL Franco. Human papillomavirus infections among couples in new sexual relationships. Epidemiology, 2010. 21(1): 31-7.