How common is HPV in the mouth and can you get it by kissing?

Dr. Jen Gunter

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the virus that causes most cervical, vaginal, and anal cancers. It also causes cancer of the vulva, and penis. More recently, HPV has been identified as an increasing cause of head and neck cancers, especially for men. From 1984 to 2004 the percentage of head and neck cancers related to HPV jumped from 16% to 70%.

While there are more than a 100 types of HPV, there are several strains (HPV 16 and HPV 18 in particular) that are particularly cancer causing both above or below the belt.

HPV is ubiquitous in the genital tract. If you are a woman and you are sexually active there is a 70% chance you will have been infected by the age of 22. The good news is most people clear their HPV infection. It’s the infections that the immune system can’t clear that are at risk of…

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