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Human Papillomavirus Infection: Epidemiology, Biology, Host Interactions, Cancer Development, Prevention, and Therapeutics
  • Jonas Michel Wolf
Jonas Michel Wolf
Hospital Moinhos de Vento

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide. It is caused by the human papillomavirus, a DNA virus that infects epithelial cells in various mucous membranes and skin surfaces. HPV can be categorized into high-risk and low-risk types based on their association with the development of certain cancers. High-risk HPV types, such as HPV-16 and HPV-18, are known to be oncogenic and are strongly associated with the development of cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers. These types of HPV can persist in the body for an extended period and, in some cases, lead to the formation of precancerous lesions that may progress to cancer if left untreated. Low-risk HPV types, such as HPV-6 and HPV-11, are not typically associated with cancer but can cause benign conditions like genital warts. Genital warts are characterized by the growth of small, cauliflower-like bumps on the genital and anal areas. Although not life-threatening, they can cause discomfort and psychological distress. HPV is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be transmitted through non-penetrative sexual activities that involve skin-to-skin contact. In addition to sexual transmission, vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth is possible but relatively rare. Prevention of HPV infection includes vaccination and safe sexual practices. HPV vaccines, such as Gardasil and Cervarix, are highly effective in preventing infection with the most common high-risk HPV types. These vaccines are typically administered to adolescents and young adults before they become sexually active. Safe sexual practices, such as consistent and correct condom use and limiting the number of sexual partners, can also reduce the risk of HPV transmission. Diagnosis of HPV infection can be challenging because the infection is often asymptomatic, especially in men. In women, HPV testing can be done through cervical screening programs, which involve the collection of cervical cells for analysis. Abnormal results may lead to further diagnostic procedures, such as colposcopy or biopsy, to detect precancerous or cancerous changes. Overall, HPV infection is a prevalent sexually transmitted infection with significant implications for public health. Vaccination, regular screening, and early treatment of precancerous lesions are key strategies to reduce the burden of HPV-related diseases and their associated complications. Education and awareness about HPV and its prevention are crucial in promoting optimal sexual health. This study aimed to carry out a literature review considering several aspects involving HPV infection: Global distribution, prevalence, biology, host interactions, cancer development, prevention, therapeutics, coinfection with other viruses, coinfection with bacteria, association with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), and association with anal cancer.