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Reports of Study Findings

56 per cent of young adults in a new sexual relationship infected with HPV

Jan. 14, 2010 - Researchers of the HITCH Cohort Study found more than half (56 per cent) of young adults in a new sexual relationship were infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). Of those, nearly half (44 per cent) were infected with an HPV type that causes cancer.

The aim of HITCH is to determine the prevalence of HPV infections among recently formed couples. This is the first large-scale study of HPV infection among couples early in their sexual relationships when transmission is most likely.

The results, published in the January 2010 issues of Epidemiology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, also indicate there is a high probability of HPV transmission between partners. When one partner had HPV, the researchers observed that in 42 per cent of couples, the other partner also had the infection. Moreover, the researchers found that the presence of HPV in one partner was the strongest predictor of finding the same HPV type in the other partner. If one partner was infected with HPV, the other partner’s chance of also being infected with the same HPV type increased over 50 times.

These results build on our knowledge that HPV infection is very common among young adults, and underline the importance of prevention programs for HPV-associated diseases such as cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination. Our results also suggest that HPV is an easy virus to get and to transmit. Our estimates of the HPV transmission probability will be of use to other researchers who use modeling to project the public health and economic impact of HPV vaccination strategies.

Our study is the first to investigate HPV transmission in a large number of new couples among young adults. The results suggest that many HPV transmissions occur at the start of new relationships, which reinforces the need for prevention.

 

Publications:

Human papillomavirus infections among couples in new sexual relationships.

Burchell AN, Tellier PP, Hanley J, Coutlée F, Franco EL. -- Epidemiology. 2010 Jan;21(1):31-7.
Abstract

Influence of partner's infection status on prevalent human papillomavirus among persons with a new sex partner.

Burchell AN, Tellier PP, Hanley J, Coutlée F, Franco EL. -- Sex Transm Dis. 2010 Jan;37(1):34-40.
Abstract

Genital transmission of human papillomavirus in recently formed heterosexual couples.

Burchell AN, Coutlée F, Tellier PP, Hanley J, Franco EL. -- J Infect Dis. 2011 Dec 1;204(11):1723-9.
Abstract

Determinants of Prevalent Human Papillomavirus in Recently Formed Heterosexual Partnerships: A Dyadic-Level Analysis.

Burchell AN, Rodrigues A, Moravan V, Tellier PP, Hanley J, Coutlée F, Franco EL. -- J Infect Dis. 2014 May 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Abstract