HPV transmission via sex toys: One study’s findings
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is by far the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) reported, new or new and existing combined, HPV accounts for approximately 79 million of the total STIs in the United States.
The CDC says most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives, which translates to everyone’s at risk.
Although the body’s immune system clears most HPV naturally within two years (about 90 percent), some infections can persist causing diseases like genital warts and more seriously, cervical and other cancers.
We know that person to person sexual activity can spread HPV, but can sharing sex toys spread HPV from one woman to another?
A recent Indiana University School of Medicine study suggests that the potential is there, according to the research published in the journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Researchers set out to determine the potential of HPV transmission via shared sex toys, and determine whether cleaning practices implemented by the study participants were effective.
Twelve women who have sex with women and men from the university were recruited to use two different style vibrators–one composed of thermoplastic elastomer, the other of silicone. After using each sex toy on separate occasions, the participants provided self-collected vaginal and vibrator samples (obtained from the vibrator shaft and handle), collected immediately after use, immediately after cleaning with a commercially available cleaner, and 24 h after cleaning.
The detection of the HPV was performed using the Roche Linear Array HPV Genotyping Test.
What did they find?
HPV was detected in the vaginal samples of 9/12 (75%) women. Vibrator 1 shaft swabs were HPV positive before cleaning in 89% (8/9), immediately after cleaning in 56% (5/9), and 24 h after cleaning in 40% (2/5) of those that were HPV positive immediately after cleaning.
Vibrator 2 shaft swabs were HPV positive before cleaning in 67% (6/9), immediately after cleaning in 44% (4/9), and 24 h after cleaning in none.
HPV was detected on at least one vibrator immediately after use in the women with vaginal HPV.
Researchers conclude there is a potential for HPV transmission via shared sex toy use, and it is additionally supported by continued detection of HPV up to 24 hrs. after standard cleaning.
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There has been a protective HPV vaccine available in the US since 2006; however, according to CDC Principal Deputy Director, Ileana Arias, PhD, we know that right now only about one out of every three girls and one out of every seven boys have received all three doses of the vaccine for protection.
On Dec. 10, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil 9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) for the prevention of certain diseases caused by nine types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Covering nine HPV types, five more HPV types than Gardasil (previously approved by the FDA), Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers.
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