HPV Can Be Transmitted through Kissing (What the Heck?)

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Oral sex and open-mouthed ‘French’ kissing increases the risk of acquiring oral infections of HPV. –  Ohio State University (1)

Most people think of cervical cancer or genital warts when they hear the word HPV.

Many know that HPV is normally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. However, an HPV survey showed that most respondents (88%) did not know whether HPV could be spread by deep, open-mouthed (French) kissing.

For instance, in the open comments section, one respondent said: “I’m fairly educated, and I know how HPV is normally transmitted. But, I recently had oral sex with someone. Then I found out he’d had genital warts but that they had healed. My question is, would he still have HPV if his warts were gone? And if so, would that HPV be transmitted to me? And could I give HPV to someone new just by kissing them?” – Sarah J, Long Beach, CA

Even when a person no longer has visible symptoms of HPV, such as genital warts, the virus is not gone.

The virus merely enters a latent (dormant) phase, but can re-awaken (reactivate) and attack again if the immune system is not efficient.

In such a case, when the virus is latent, HPV can still be transmitted from the infected individual to his or her partner.

The CDC notes on its website, in a page last updated on February 5, 2013, that “A person can have HPV even if years have passed since he or she had sexual contact with an infected person. Most infected persons do not realize they are infected or that they are passing the virus on to a sex partner. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV (1).”

Can HPV be transmitted through kissing? Yes, it can. As an article published on September 13, 2011 on WNDU.com, an NBC News Affiliate said, “Oral sex and open-mouthed ‘French’ kissing increases the risk of acquiring oral infections of HPV, a study shows (1).”

As the actual study, which was published in July 2012 in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases says, “In this study, lifetime number of partners for oral sex (performing) and open-mouth kissing partners were associated with prevalent oral HPV infection (2).”

The bottom line?

Knowing that HPV can be transmitted through a simple kiss can seriously dampen one’s sex life. It’s like a sneak attack. People need to have a strong defense against the latent HPV virus. This means an effective and safe drug or natural product needs to be made available to the public that targets the latent virus.


(1) WNDU.com (NBC Affiliate) – “HPV: The new kissing disease?” Published September 13, 2011

(2) Pickard RK1, Xiao W, Broutian TR, He X, Gillison ML. “The prevalence and incidence of oral human papillomavirus infection among young men and women, aged 18-30 years.” Sex Transm Dis. 2012 Jul;39(7):559-66.


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