The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common s*xually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes).
HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women get it at some point in their lives.
There are over 100 strains of HPV, but only about 15 are known as harmful HPV types.
It’s important to note that detecting the HPV virus in a sample of people who have oral cancer, doesn’t mean that HPV caused the cancer.
Rather, the virus becomes part of the genetic material of the cancer cells, which triggers them to grow.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.
Typically, HPV found in the mouth is sexually transmitted, meaning oral sex is the most common way of contracting the disease.
It’s not yet determined how common HPV infection in the mouth is.
A recent report released by the Canadian Cancer Society and Public Health Agency of Canda found that the rate of HPV mouth and throat cancers in males are increasing.
A 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that the proportion of o’ral cancers related to HPV increased from 16.3 percent to 71.7 percent between 1984 and 2004.
Meanwhile, risk factors for oral cancers have been linked to sexual behavior, such as ever having oral sex, having oral sex with four or more people in your lifetime, and among men, first having sex at an earlier age (under 18).
There is no absolute way to determine which persons – who have HPV – will develop cancer or other health problems.
“In most cases, the virus goes away and it does not lead to any health problems. There is no certain way to know which people infected with HPV will go on to develop cancer,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although, when cancer does occur and it’s detected early, patients have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that both boys and girls get the HPV vaccine between the ages of 11 and 12.
The vaccine is most effective if it’s administered before a child becomes sexually active.