Context: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the principal cause of a distinct form of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma that is increasing in incidence among men in the United States. However, little is known about the epidemiology of oral HPV infection.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of oral HPV infection in the United States.
Design, setting, and participants: A cross-sectional study was conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010, a statistically representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized US population. Men and women aged 14 to 69 years examined at mobile examination centers were eligible. Participants (N = 5579) provided a 30-second oral rinse and gargle with mouthwash. For detection of HPV types, DNA purified from oral exfoliated cells was evaluated by polymerase chain reaction and type-specific hybridization. Demographic and behavioral data were obtained by standardized interview. Statistical analyses used NHANES sample weights to provide weighted prevalence estimates for the US population.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of oral HPV infection.
Results: The prevalence of oral HPV infection among men and women aged 14 to 69 years was 6.9% (95% CI, 5.7%-8.3%) and of HPV type 16 was 1.0% (95% CI, 0.7%-1.3%). Oral HPV infection followed a bimodal pattern with respect to age, with peak prevalence among individuals aged 30 to 34 years (7.3%; 95% CI, 4.6%-11.4%) and 60 to 64 years (11.4%; 95% CI, 8.5%-15.1%). Men had a significantly higher prevalence than women for any oral HPV infection (10.1% [95% CI, 8.3%-12.3%] vs 3.6% [95% CI, 2.6%-5.0%], P < .001; unadjusted prevalence ratio [PR], 2.80 [95% CI, 2.02-3.88]). Infection was less common among those without vs those with a history of any type of sexual contact (0.9% [95% CI, 0.4%-1.8%] vs 7.5% [95% CI, 6.1%-9.1%], P < .001; PR, 8.69 [95% CI, 3.91-19.31]) and increased with number of sexual partners (P < .001 for trend) and cigarettes smoked per day (P < .001 for trend). Associations with age, sex, number of sexual partners, and current number of cigarettes smoked per day were independently associated with oral HPV infection in multivariable models.
Conclusion: Among men and women aged 14 to 69 years in the United States, the overall prevalence of oral HPV infection was 6.9%, and the prevalence was higher among men than among women.