Since many people worry today about contracting the HPV virus, the question whether it can be orally transmitted is a legitimate one. HPV virus is still a subject of many scientific examinations and efforts have been made to explain definitively its nature and actions.
Human papillomavirus or HPV is a double stranded DNA virus that affects epithelial cells of skin and mucous membrane. This means it can affect oral cavity, including tonsils, throat and mouth, and genital and anal area, meaning vagina, penis and rectum. When it comes in contact with skin and mucous membrane in those areas, it lodges itself into epithelial cells. This virus also attacks hands and feet.
There are more than 100 known types of human papillomavirus. It is still unclear why some attack genital area and others oral cavity.
When HPV infects a person, it results in a wart called papilloma, hence the name of the virus. There are two types of abnormal tissues that develop after the contraction of the virus- condyloma tissue and dysplasia tissue.
Condiloma tissue gives rise to non-cancerous growths or warts that look like cauliflower. They are generally painless, but can cause mild irritation, itching, burning and similar forms of discomfort.
On the other hand, the dysplastic tissue is an abnormal growth of skin cells. This type of growth is not cancerous in itself, but it can trigger malignant cancer cells. For example, such growths in women can lead to cervical cancer, so they need to be closely watched after they are first observed.
Oral transmission of HPV
The main route of transmission of the human papillomavirus is skin to skin contact. This is why it is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease. An infected person has unprotected sex with a non-infected person, and the chances of transmitting the virus are very high. Vaginal penetration is not the only way to contract the virus. It can spread through anal sex, oral sex, even from mother to child while giving birth.
The big question that bothers many people is can HPV be transmitted through kissing? The answer is yes, it is possible, especially in open-mouth kissing, like French kiss. The chances for contracting HPV orally are smaller compared to sexual transmission, but there do exist. When a person gets infected by HPV transmitted orally, the chances of oral cancer increase if the person is a smoker.
The most common way to contract HPV orally is still through oral sex. This is why it is important to always use a condom, even for oral sex, and to be careful not to touch the partners genitals and then touch the mouth.
Condoms form a barrier against the virus during vaginal, anal and oral sex. This form of protection is for now the best one. There is one more possibility, and that is the vaccination with Gardasil, which has been FDA approved. This vaccine protects against four HPV strains that cause cancer and warts.