Background: Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) is a common infection in the anogenital tract. HPV16 DNA detected in oral specimens has recently been identified as a risk factor for some oropharyngeal cancers. The reported prevalence of oral HPV infection from individual studies is highly variable.
Methods: We systematically reviewed and abstracted data from published studies (n = 18) that detected oral HPV DNA in 4581 cancer-free subjects to determine the pooled prevalence (and 95% confidence intervals [CI]) of HPV16, carcinogenic HPV, and any HPV.
Results: 1.3% (95% CI: 1.0-1.7%) of 3977 healthy subjects had oral HPV16, 3.5% (95% CI: 3.0-4.1) of 4441 subjects had carcinogenic HPV, and 4.5% (95% CI: 3.9-5.1) of 4070 subjects were positive for any HPV. Oral HPV16 accounted for 28% of all HPV detected in the oral region. Men (47 of 1017) and women (117 of 3690) had nearly exactly the same prevalence of any oral HPV detected (4.6% vs. 4.4%, respectively).
Conclusions: HPV-16, a common anogenital infection, was rarely detected in oral specimens. However, a small but noteworthy proportion of healthy individuals have oral HPV infections with types known to cause cancer in the oral region.