One in three men worldwide are infected with genital human papillomavirus

NO082 - L Bruni_Lancet GH - Imatge noti

A study led by the Infections and Cancer research group from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), in which the World Health Organization (WHO) has also participated, shows that almost 1 in 3 men over the age of 15 are infected with at least one genital human papillomavirus (HPV) type, and 1 in 5 are infected with one or more of what are known as high risk, or oncogenic, HPV types. These estimates show that men frequently harbour genital HPV infections and emphasize the importance of incorporating men in efforts to control HPV infection and reduce the incidence of HPV related disease in both men and women.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, with a systematic review and meta-analysis has evaluated the prevalence of genital HPV infection in the general male population based on studies published between January 1995 and June 2022. The overall prevalence is 31% for any HPV type and 21% for high-risk HPV. HPV-16 is the most prevalent genotype (5%) followed by HPV-6 (4%). HPV prevalence was high in young adults, reaching a maximum between the ages of 25 years and 29 years, and stabilized or slightly decreased thereafter.

Most HPV infections in men and women are asymptomatic and transient, but in some cases, when the immune system cannot clear the infection, it can lead to cancer. Every year, more than 340,000 women die from cervical cancer, for which HPV is necessary. In men, HPV infection tends to manifest through anogenital warts, which can cause morbidity and increase HPV transmission rates. 90% of anogenital warts are caused by HPV-6 and HPV-11. HPV infections are also associated with penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers, which are often related to HPV-16. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimated that there were about 69,400 cases of cancer in men caused by HPV in 2018.

This global study on the prevalence of genital HPV infection among men suggests that the prevalence is high and remains high throughout sexual life. It is important to incorporate men into HPV prevention strategies to reduce the morbidity and mortality related to this virus in men and, finally, achieve the elimination of cervical cancer and other related diseases,” explains Dr. Laia Bruni, principal investigator at IDIBELL and the Catalan Institute of Oncology, and leader of the project.

Text adapted from the World Health Organization (link)



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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