Condom Use and HPV Clearance
The efficacy of condom use in preventing HPV transmission is unknown and stirs much debate in the increasingly politicized arena of public health. The discussion may become even more robust following two recent studies from the Netherlands indicating that consistent use of condoms may aid in clearing both HPV and lesions associated with the virus.
Researchers from Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Dordrecht divided women with HPV and cervical cell changes (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia or CIN) into two groups, one that was instructed to use condoms consistently with their male sexual partner and one that was not. Over two years, the condom group (64 women evaluated) showed 53% regression of lesions compared to 35% among the noncondom group (61 women evaluated).
The condom group also was more likely to test negative for HPV after two years, with 23% clearing the virus versus only 4% of the noncondom group.
In related research, a group of investigators from AmsterdamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s VU University Medical Center followed 100 male partners of women with CIN. The men, who had penile lesions, were also divided into condom and noncondom groups. The women whose male partners used condoms (57 evaluated) had some lesions regress more quickly, in roughly seven and one-half months, compared to just under fourteen months for the group not using condoms (43 evaluated).
The effectiveness of condom use in preventing HPV transmission is unknown, however. These studies, although designed in a manner to evaluate the effect of condom use prospectively, did not evaluate consistent or correct use or condoms with the study participants.
While the Dutch researchers conclude that condom use aids in the clearance of HPV and genital lesions (probably by reducing additional exposure to the virus and decreasing viral load), questions remain as to the impact of condom use on HPV transmission, and clearance of HPV-associated lesions.References
Hogewoning CJ et al. Condom Use Promotes Regression of Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia and Clearance of Human Papillomavirus: a Randomized Clinical Trial. International Journal of Cancer Dec 2003; 107(5):811-816
MCG Bleeker et al. Condom Use Promotes Regression of Human Papillomavirus-Associated Lesions in Male Sexual Partners of Women with Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia. International Journal of Cancer Dec 2003; 107(5):804-810Originally published in HPV News. (c) 2004-2009 The American Social Health Association. All right reserved.
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