Oral and laryngeal HPV infection: Incidence, prevalence and risk factors, with special regard to concurrent infection in head, neck and genitals

Vaccine. 2021 Apr 22;39(17):2344-2350. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.03.047. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


This review focuses on the importance of oral and laryngeal HPV infection which is present in majority of sexually active individuals at least once in their lifetime. Despite testing, still little is known about prevalence rates, determinants and, especially, the concurrent HPV infection in head and neck, and genitals. The purpose of this review is to clarify some issues of oral HPV incidence, prevalence, and to demonstrate the difficulties in identification of asymptomatic oral HPV carriers. The main premise to take up this topic is the high and still increasing risk for development of oropharyngeal cancer, and potential benefit from screening strategies, education programs and HPV vaccination. Transmission of HPV to the oral cavity and oropharynx is hypothesized to occur mainly through sexual contact. The exposure of oropharyngeal mucosa to HPV infection with consequence of increased risk for oropharyngeal carcinoma depends on specific sexual behavior. Male gender, older age, race or ethnicity, oral hygiene and current cigarette smoking are independently associated with any prevalent oral HPV infection.

Keywords: Concurrent oro-genital infection; Contagiousness; HPV; Infection; Larynx; Oral; Oropharynx.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Genitalia
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms*
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors