Seminal HPV Infection Prevalent Worldwide, May Affect Male Fertility

sperm, artwork
sperm, artwork
Study was the first to examine the geographical variation of seminal HPV prevalence, showing a relatively high prevalence in fertility clinic attendees when compared to the general population.

Seminal infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) was found to be common worldwide and may increase risk for male infertility, according to a study published in BMC Infectious Diseases.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection in males and females worldwide and has been implicated in male infertility by the binding of virons to sperm, thereby reducing sperm quality. Male-factor infertility contributes to approximately 50% of cases of infertility. Despite this, in most men, the cause of infertility remains unknown.

To estimate worldwide prevalence of HPV DNA in semen, 31 eligible studies reporting HPV prevalence in semen were analyzed. 

Data from 5194 men showed overall prevalence to be 11.4% (95% CI, 7.8%-15%) in the general population and 20.4% (95% CI, 16.2%-24.6%) in fertility clinic attendees. HPV16 was the most common type in both groups. High-risk type prevalence was higher in fertility clinic attendees: 15.5% (95% CI, 11.4%-19.7%) vs 10% (95% CI, 5.9%-14%) in the general population. Men positive for HPV in semen had a significantly increased risk for infertility (odds ratio [OR] 2.93; 95% CI, 2.03-4.24).

The results show HPV is common worldwide, although the prevalence was relatively higher in fertility clinic attendees in Latin America and Africa. HPV was also associated with infertility, but, as this was a meta-analysis of previous studies, further prospective cohort studies and functional experiments are necessary to validate this work and increase the knowledge of HPV and reproductive health.  

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Lyu Z, Feng X, Li N, et al. Human papillomavirus in semen and the risk for male infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Infect Dis. 2017;17:714.