Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and its association with head and
neck cancers (HNCs) have been established by many studies. The
characteristics of HPV-associated HNCs are distinguishable from those of non
HPV-associated HNCs. HPV-associated HNCs are related to sexual behaviour,
particularly the lifetime number of oral sex partners. The oral and
oropharyngeal HPV epidemiology in South African men has not yet been
The objective of this study was to determine the oral and oropharyngeal HPV
strain prevalence and associated factors in a selected male population in
Pretoria, South Africa. Male factory workers were recruited on a voluntary
basis to be part of this study. Oral rinse and gargle samples were tested for 37
HPV types using the HPV linear array genotyping kit (Roche Molecular
System). A questionnaire was utilised to obtain information regarding age,
medical conditions, substance and alcohol use and sexual behaviour. HIV
testing was optional.
The HPV prevalence was 5.6% among the men (n=125) aged 17-64 years.
High risk HPV (hrHPV) types 16 and 68 were found in two men. Amongst the
majority of the participants oral sex seemed to be an uncommon practice
however, those participants with hrHPV did practice oral sex. A statistically
significant association between HPV infection and an increased number of
sexual partners (p=0.027) was seen but not between substance use, HIVstatus
or clinical mucosal pathology. Considering the oral and oropharyngeal HPV prevalence found in this study
compared to those reported in other countries. It is therefore proposed that a
larger nationwide study be conducted to give a more representative view of
the burden of oral and oropharyngeal HPV infection in South Africa.