Background: Estimates of the lifetime probability of acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV) can help to quantify HPV incidence, illustrate how common HPV infection is, and highlight the importance of HPV vaccination.
Methods: We developed a simple model, based primarily on the distribution of lifetime numbers of sex partners across the population and the per-partnership probability of acquiring HPV, to estimate the lifetime probability of acquiring HPV in the United States in the time frame before HPV vaccine availability.
Results: We estimated the average lifetime probability of acquiring HPV among those with at least 1 opposite sex partner to be 84.6% (range, 53.6%-95.0%) for women and 91.3% (range, 69.5%-97.7%) for men. Under base case assumptions, more than 80% of women and men acquire HPV by age 45 years.
Conclusions: Our results are consistent with estimates in the existing literature suggesting a high lifetime probability of HPV acquisition and are supported by cohort studies showing high cumulative HPV incidence over a relatively short period, such as 3 to 5 years.