Human papillomavirus risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2]


Common risk factors for anogenital HPV infection are number of sex partners, having a new partner, duration of being sexually active, vaginal delivery and multiple deliveries. Close contact is the most potent factor for cutaneous infection.

Risk Factors

The most potent risk factor in acquiring HPV skin infection is close contact,[1] while the most important risk factor for anogenital infection is sexual activity.[2]

Sexual transmission

Risk factors responsible for sexual transmission of HPV include:

  • Number of sex partners[3][4]
  • Acquisition of new partner[3]
  • Having nonmonogamous sex partner[5][6]
  • Starting sexual activity at young age[5]
  • Vaginal delivery and multiple deliveries[7]
  • Age over 40 for women[8]
  • History of Chlamydia infection[9]
  • Long term OCP use[10]


  1. Bennett, John (2015). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 9781455748013.
  2. Ho GY, Bierman R, Beardsley L, Chang CJ, Burk RD (1998). "Natural history of cervicovaginal papillomavirus infection in young women". N. Engl. J. Med. 338 (7): 423–8. doi:10.1056/NEJM199802123380703. PMID 9459645.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bell MC, Schmidt-Grimminger D, Jacobsen C, Chauhan SC, Maher DM, Buchwald DS (2011). "Risk factors for HPV infection among American Indian and white women in the Northern Plains". Gynecol. Oncol. 121 (3): 532–6. doi:10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.02.032. PMC 4498572. PMID 21414655.
  4. Tarkowski TA, Koumans EH, Sawyer M, Pierce A, Black CM, Papp JR, Markowitz L, Unger ER (2004). "Epidemiology of human papillomavirus infection and abnormal cytologic test results in an urban adolescent population". J. Infect. Dis. 189 (1): 46–50. doi:10.1086/380466. PMID 14702152.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Koutsky L (1997). "Epidemiology of genital human papillomavirus infection". Am. J. Med. 102 (5A): 3–8. PMID 9217656.
  6. Winer RL, Lee SK, Hughes JP, Adam DE, Kiviat NB, Koutsky LA (2003). "Genital human papillomavirus infection: incidence and risk factors in a cohort of female university students". Am. J. Epidemiol. 157 (3): 218–26. PMID 12543621.
  7. Tseng CJ, Liang CC, Soong YK, Pao CC (1998). "Perinatal transmission of human papillomavirus in infants: relationship between infection rate and mode of delivery". Obstet Gynecol. 91 (1): 92–6. PMID 9464728.
  8. Ting J, Kruzikas DT, Smith JS (2010). "A global review of age-specific and overall prevalence of cervical lesions". Int. J. Gynecol. Cancer. 20 (7): 1244–9. PMID 21495248.
  9. Kjaer SK, van den Brule AJ, Bock JE, Poll PA, Engholm G, Sherman ME, Walboomers JM, Meijer CJ (1997). "Determinants for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in 1000 randomly chosen young Danish women with normal Pap smear: are there different risk profiles for oncogenic and nononcogenic HPV types?". Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 6 (10): 799–805. PMID 9332762.
  10. Ley C, Bauer HM, Reingold A, Schiffman MH, Chambers JC, Tashiro CJ, Manos MM (1991). "Determinants of genital human papillomavirus infection in young women". J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 83 (14): 997–1003. PMID 1649312.

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