Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is estimated to be the most common sexually transmitted infection; an estimated 6.2 million persons are newly infected every year in the United States. There are limited data on HPV infection in heterosexual men.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature by searching MEDLINE using the terms "human papillomavirus," "HPV," "male," "seroprevalence," and "serology" to retrieve articles published from 1 January 1990 to 1 February 2006. We included studies that had data on population characteristics and that evaluated male genital anatomic sites or specimens for HPV DNA or included assessments of seropositivity to HPV type 6, 11, 16, or 18 in men. We excluded studies that had been conducted only in children or immunocompromised persons (HIV infected, transplant recipients, or elderly).
Results: We included a total of 40 publications on HPV DNA detection and risk factors for HPV in men; 27 evaluated multiple anatomic sites or specimens, 10 evaluated a single site or specimen, and 3 evaluated risk factors or optimal anatomic sites/specimens for HPV detection. Twelve studies assessed site- or specimen-specific HPV DNA detection. HPV prevalence in men was 1.3%-72.9% in studies in which multiple anatomic sites or specimens were evaluated; 15 (56%) of these studies reported > or =20% HPV prevalence. HPV prevalence varied on the basis of sampling, processing methods, and the anatomic site(s) or specimen(s) sampled. We included 15 publications reporting HPV seroprevalence. Rates of seropositivity depended on the population, HPV type, and methods used. In 9 studies that evaluated both men and women, all but 1 demonstrated that HPV seroprevalence was lower in men than in women.
Conclusion: HPV infection is highly prevalent in sexually active men and can be detected by use of a variety of specimens and methods. There have been few natural-history studies and no transmission studies of HPV in men. The information that we have reviewed may be useful for future natural-history studies and for modeling the potential impact of a prophylactic HPV vaccine.