[How did I contract human Papillomavirus (HPV)?]

Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2010 Mar;38(3):199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.gyobfe.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Feb 26.
[Article in French]


More than 120 genotypes have been identified among the Papillomavirus (HPV) family. These viruses are ubiquitary with skin or mucous membrane tropism and cause various pathologies from wart to neoplasia. HPV family is classified according to their tropism. Genital HPV infection is considered as the most frequent sexually transmitted disease in the world. Seventy-five percent of women will be in contact with HPV at least one time in their life. HPV is usually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, more often during penetrative genital contact. Other types of genital contact in the absence of penetration can lead to HPV infection, but those routes of transmission are much less common than sexual intercourse. However, virgins (<2 % of cases) and young children can present HPV infection, suggesting other routes of transmission than sexual intercourse. HPV infection could occur during delivery; vaginal deliveries appear to promote this transmission in comparison with cesarean section. But cesarean section do not completely protect against contamination risk. In utero, vertical transmission has been suggested by different studies but with lack of evidence. HPV infection can be detected on inanimate objects, such as clothing or environmental surfaces. However, transmission is not known to occur by this route. More detailed knowledges of the transmission route of HPV infection will enable to get prevention more effective.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section
  • Coitus
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Milk, Human / virology
  • Papillomaviridae*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / transmission
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / virology