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Can You Get HPV From Kissing?

Having HPV and a healthy sex life is possible, but you need to play it safe. Learn more about if you can get or give HPV from kissing.

Read on

Is it possible to transmit the human papillomavirus (HPV) just by kissing? The answer is -- maybe.

Below, we will review just what HPV is, how it can spread, if you can give it to someone else through kissing, as well as tips to stay safe when it comes to sexual activity and HPV.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common viral infection that is passed from skin-to-skin contact. HPV can be totally harmless and go away on its own. However, some types can lead to genital warts or cancer. HPV has more than 100 different strains.

There are 40 HPV strains that can infect your genital and mouth area. (HPV is the same virus that can cause hand or foot warts, but these types aren’t  sexually transmitted.)

Possible HPV infection areas:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Penis
  • Groin
  • Anus
  • Rectum

Also Read: Kissing and Cold Sores: When Is Kissing Safe?

The most common STI in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. 79 million Americans, mostly young sexually active adults, are thought to be infected with HPV. Roughly, 14 million people become newly infected each year.80 percent of sexually active people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives.

Those infected might not know they have contracted HPV, as with certain strains, there are little to no symptoms. The body usually clears this virus within two years.

How is HPV spread?

The human papillomavirus is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Being that HPV is sexually transmitted, this can mean it is transmitted via oral, anal, or vaginal sex. As some strains cause little to no symptoms, the infected might not know they carry the human papillomavirus.

However, even those with no symptoms can spread the virus. If you are sexually active, you can get HPV. If your partner is sexually active, they are also at risk for HPV. (Did I mention genital HPV infections are extremely common?)

Read Related: How To Stop Early-Stage Cold Sores: 6 Ways To Help Heal Cold Sores Faster

Can kissing lead to HPV?

It’s possible. It is not thought that HPV can be spread by casual interaction such as a friendly peck. However, if you are playing tongue hockey, that is what is considered ‘deep kissing’. It is thought that you can contract oral HPV from deep kissing.

So, if your smooch leads to a passionate make-out session then you might catch HPV if the person you are kissing is infected.

While research does not show a definite link between kissing and HPV, there has been some research that suggested open-mouth kissing increases the likelihood of HPV transmission.

This is thought to be true because HPV can lead to warts or sores inside the mouth. It can also lead to cancer of the oropharynx (back of the throat).

HPV warts

There are about 40 strains of HPV that can cause genital and oral warts. HPV types 6 and 11 cause most cases of genital warts and are considered low risk for cancer development.

These HPV types can cause genital warts that affect in the following areas:

  • The vulva
  • In or around the vagina
  • In or around the anus
  • On the cervix
  • On the groin (where the genitals meet the thigh)

Some HPV infections can lead to cancer

There are at least 14 HPV strains that are associated with cancer and are considered high risk. HPV types 16 and 18 are considered high-risk.

Cancers that can be caused by HPV infections:

In the United States, HPV is estimated to cause 35,000 cancer cases annually. Two HPV types are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers.

To avoid these highly undesirable effects, it is recommended by the CDC to vaccinate against HPV and practice safe sex. They estimate the HPV vaccination can prevent 90 percent of HPV cancers.

Tips for safer sex

1. Remember, oral sex is not necessarily the ‘safer sex’.

Sure, you can’t get pregnant, but, you can transmit many types of STIs via oral sex.

Utilizing condoms and/or dental dams can lower your chances of contracting HPV and other STIs. Condoms can be used for oral sex performed on a penis and dental dams can be used when performing oral sex on a vagina.

2. Get tested with your partners. Is going to the clinic for an STD test sexy? No, probably not.

But, it is the wisest thing you can do when it comes to your sexual health. Get tested, and stay honest about your monogamy, or lack thereof, so you can throw sexual caution to the wind and boast a sparkling STD test report.

3. If you find out you have contracted HPV, contact your past sexual partners. It’s the right thing to do. Doing so could keep your past partners and their current partners safe.  

Strut Health prioritizes your sexual health and safety

This is why we offer free online questionnaire-based doctor’s visits and prescriptions for issues like cold sores, genital herpes, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.

We specialize in helping you maintain a safe and satisfactory sex life. We’ve got your back, so you can Strut!

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