Transmission and clearance of human papillomavirus infection in the oral cavity and its role in oropharyngeal carcinoma – A review

Małgorzata Wierzbicka, Michel R. M. San Giorgi, Frederik G. Dikkers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The majority of sexually active individuals becomes infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) at least once in their lifetime. Pathways for HPV transmission vary across different mucosal sites per individual. They include autoinoculation within one host, direct transmission between individuals (including perinatal transmission and transmission during sexual activity), and indirect transmission through contact with hands. The authors aim to clarify the prevalence and route of transmission per anatomic site, inter- and intra-individually, using a narrative review of the literature. In conclusion, transmission of HPV to the oral cavity and oropharynx is hypothesised to occur mainly through sexual contact. Transmission of particles through saliva has not been proven and daily living activities are not a documented source of HPV infection. Oropharyngeal HPV related cancer survivors and their partners do not show increased risk of infection during sexual intercourse. Transmission of HPV to the oral cavity (autoinoculation with fingers or transmission through saliva in deep kissing) is probably of limited importance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in medical virology
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


  • extragenital → extragenital
  • extragenital → genital
  • genital → extragenital
  • genital → genital
  • human papilloma virus
  • mucosal squamous cell carcinomas
  • orogenital transmission concerns

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