This 2018 study was carried out from 2001 to 2005 in college women from Morelos State University in Mexico. Participants were related to the health science field (Medicine, Pharmacy, Psychology, Biology, and Education).. Students with ≥ 3 sexual partners and who did not use condom had 12.8 higher odds of being HPV positive.
HPV is the sexually transmitted agent most common among young people, like college students.
The aim of study was to associate sexual behavior characteristics of women with HPV, detected in genital samples taken before the introduction of the HPV vaccine.
Female students during 2001–2005 donated genital samples and the samples were re-analyzed in 2013 for HPV genotyping by RT-PCR.
The frozen storage of the students’ genital samples allowed the detection of HPV DNA and its genotyping after years of sample collection. HPV prevalence was 22%, HPV16 3.9%, and HPV18 1.1%.
Age, multiple sexual partners and the partner’s age at first sexual intercourse were significantly associated to HPV. Students with ≥ 3 sexual partners and who did not use condom had 12.8 higher odds of being HPV positive.
In this report, we found that students with older partners at first sexual intercourse had a higher possibility of becoming positive for HPV DNA. This is relevant because it has been reported that sexual partner’s age is an important risk factor for HIV infection in homosexual men and it is thought that this is partially due to the low acceptance of condom use by older sexual partners. This behavior could also happen regarding HPV, for heterosexual partners. In fact, we found that 49.0% of the older sexual partners did not use condom, compared with 40.1% of younger sexual partners as reported by participating college women (p = 0.119). Additionally, there was a higher possibility of being positive for HPV DNA in women 26 years old or older, this group reported a higher number of lifetime sexual partners and lower frequency of condom use during last sexual intercourse.
The interaction between the number of sexual partners (main risk factor for HPV exposure) and condom use (barrier against HPV exposure) was clear in the studied population, and even though condom use effectiveness in preventing HPV infection has been inconsistent in cross sectional studies, a review of longitudinal studies shows that it protects against the infection.