Two-Thirds of Americans May Carry HPV

HPV found in more than two out of three healthy americans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Humans are teeming with viruses and bacteria, both good and bad. It seems one such invader — the human papillomavirus (HPV) — may be infecting many of us.

A recent study found that two out of three people carried some form of HPV.

The results showed more than 100 different strains of HPV among the study participants.

"Ask your doctor if an HPV vaccination is right for you."

This study was led by Yingfei Ma, PhD, Langone research scientist at New York University.

The research team performed DNA analysis on 748 tissue swabs collected from 103 healthy participants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Human Microbiome Project. The swabs provided DNA samples from participants' skin, mouth, gut and vagina.

Dr. Ma and team used shotgun sequencing, a method used to decode and sort large amounts of DNA, to look for the existence of HPV, and to identify the strain of HPV.

The authors identified 109 of the known 140 strains of HPV, with 69 percent of the participants infected with one or more types. Only four of the 103 participants were infected with one of the two HPV strains known to cause cervical cancer, some types of throat cancers and genital warts.

The data showed that 61.3 percent of HPV infections were in the skin, 41.5 percent in the vagina, 30 percent in the mouth, and 17.3 percent in the gut.

Skin had the most individual strains of HPV, with 80 different strains, 40 of which are only found in the skin. Vaginal tissue had 43 different types of HPV, the mouth had 33 types, and the gut held six individual HPV strains.

The researchers also noted that more than one type of HPV was found in 48.1 percent of the HPV-positive samples.

Senior study investigator Zhiheng Pei, MD, PhD, said in a press release, “Our study offers initial and broad evidence of a seemingly ‘normal’ HPV viral biome in people that does not necessarily cause disease and that could very well mimic the highly varied bacterial environment in the body, or microbiome, which is key to maintaining good health.”

The researchers said there is a need for better diagnostic tests that would be capable of identifying the existence of all types of HPV without the need for DNA sequencing.

This study was presented May 20 at the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting in Boston.

This study was funded by the NIH Roadmap Initiative’s Human Microbiome Project and the National Cancer Institute.

The authors made no disclosures.

Review Date: 
May 20, 2014
Last Updated:
May 20, 2014