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Partners of individuals with HPV may not have an increased risk of oral infection

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

All sexually active individuals should make sure that they do not have any sexually transmitted diseases by regularly utilizing STD testing services, but there are some populations that need to go out of their way to make sure they are tested regularly. For example, individuals who have a sexual partner that has tested positive for an STD need to be tested to ensure that they have not contracted the infection themselves.

However, there was recently good news for people who have a partner with the human papillomavirus. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, partners of people with HPV-related oral cancers appear to have no increased risk of oral HPV infection themselves. Regardless of these findings, the researchers stressed that this does not mean individuals who have a partner with HPV-related oral cancer should assume they don't have any risk of HPV.

"While we can't guarantee that the partners of patients will not develop oral HPV infections or cancers, we can reassure them that our study found they had no increased prevalence of oral infections, which suggests their risk of HPV-related oral cancer remains low," said researcher Gypsyamber D'Souza, Ph.D., M.P.H.

A concerning rise
The scientists explained that there has been an increase in the number of individuals with HPV in the U.S., and the fear of transmitting this disease has lead to anxiety and even divorce among some couples. To come to their conclusions, the researchers examined 166 male and female patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers and 94 of their spouses and partners.

Of the partners, six had oral HPV infections. However, one year later, these infections were no longer detectable.

The researchers added that while these findings suggest that people in long-term committed relationships may not have to change their sexual behaviors, individuals should always use caution when it comes to new sexual partners.

More on HPV
These findings are not entirely surprising, since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the majority of HPV cases clear up on their own over time. However, those that do not could lead to a wide range of cancers, such as oral, anal and cervical. This is why it's necessary for people who have persistent HPV to get it treated before it causes cancer to develop. An STD is able to reveal whether someone is infected with HPV, so people who are concerned about their risk should be sure to get tested regularly.

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