by Cynthia Janak
August 8, 2009
One of the things that has interested me from the beginning is the sexual transmission of the Human Papillomavirus. It has been referenced time and time again that HPV is sexually transmitted. The reason the vaccine was approved for use by 9 year-old girls is because the majority of these children would not have had any sexual encounters at this age.
This is all well and good in theory but according to a study in Finland the transmission of HPV via sexual contact is not the only means. In this study 76 families were studied for two years with the main focus being the transmission of HPV from parents to infants.
http://jcm.asm.org/cgi/reprint/43/1/376 Transmission of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) between Parents and Infant: a Prospective Study of HPV in Families in Finland, Marjut A. M. Rintala,1* Seija E Gre’nman,1 Mirja H. Puranen,2,3 Erika Isolauri,4 Ulla Ekblad,1 Pentti O. Kero,4 and Stina M. Syrja¨nen2,3, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology1 and Department of Pediatrics,4 Turku University Central Hospital,Institute of Dentistry,2 and MediCity Research Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, Universityof Turku,3 Turku, Finland,Received 1 December 2003/Returned for modification 28 January 2004/Accepted 20 September 2004, JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, Jan. 2005, p. 376–381
What I found interesting in this study is that on page three they discuss HPV detection in the families. It states that only 2.6% of the families were totally HPV DNA negative. Here is the paragraph with all the details.
HPV dynamics in the families are shown in Table 2. Only 2.6% of the families were totally HPV DNA negative. In 22 families (29%), HPV DNA was detected in all family members. HPV DNA was more frequent in mother-infant than in father-infant pairs (26 versus 11%). However, in six (8%) families, only the infant was HPV positive, as determined by any sample positive for HPV.
What concerned me about these findings is the fact that 7.9% of the families the infant was the only one that had HPV DNA present. How did these infants acquire HPV? Could it be from lateral transmission such as by someone unknowingly infected kissing the baby on the mouth or an infected person changing the baby’s diaper? We all know that HPV is present in both males and females and is not just a sexually transmitted disease as previously thought. We now know that it can be acquired via contact.