A160: Perceived risk and oral HPV infection in high risk adults: analysis of GUM clinic attendees in the UK

Rachael Dodd1,Jo Waller1,Laura Marlow1,Karly Louie2

1University College London, London, UK,2Cancer for Centre Prevention, Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, London, UK

Presenting date: Monday 2 November
Presenting time: 13.10-14.00


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and over 80% of sexually active people will have come into contact with HPV in their lifetime. The aetiological role of HPV in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has been well established through epidemiological studies worldwide [1] and HPV is detected in 2/3 of oropharyngeal cancers [2]. As there is an increasing burden of OSCC in the UK, it is important to identify an appropriate method for detecting oral HPV infection.


98 attendees (49 men and 49 women) at a London-based GUM clinic were asked to complete oral samples for HPV DNA testing and a questionnaire assessing their knowledge of HPV and perceived risk of oral HPV as well as their sexual history. Participants were not made aware of their HPV status.


Mean age was 31 years. Overall, 67% of participants tested positive for oral HPV. Men reported a significantly higher average number of lifetime sexual partners (47) and oral sex partners (37) than women (17 and 13 respectively). Overall, 62% of the sample had heard of HPV, and 33% had heard of oral HPV. Among both men and women, those who tested positive for oral HPV accurately perceived themselves to be at greater risk of infection than others their age. Participants perceived a greater risk of having oral HPV if they had previously been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. In women only, having a higher number of lifetime sexual partners was associated with a greater perceived risk of having oral HPV.


A greater proportion of the participants had heard of HPV generally than oral HPV. Higher perceived risk of oral HPV was associated with a greater likelihood of testing positive for the virus but among men, perceived risk did not always seem to be related to actual risk factors.