The virus, most commonly known as the cause of cervical cancer in women, can be contracted through vaginal and anal sex. However, it can be passed orally too, and partaking in oral sex can add to the risk of contracting the virus.
HPV is now recognised as a cause of oral cancer; approximately 800 cases of oral cancer are connected to the virus each year according to The National Cancer Intelligence Network, and it is most commonly diagnosed in men.
It is possible for both men and women who missed the introduction of the injections at schools to pay for the HPV vaccine but it is not yet available apart from through private practices.
However, it is not certain whether the vaccine is entirely effective in preventing oral HPV cases, since evidence is lacking.
The more sexual partners an individual has, the higher the risk – and the risk can only be lowered by having the vaccine or changing sexual habits.
It is hoped that with further research the link between oral cancer and oral sex can be better understood. However, contraception during oral sex is recommended to ensure maximum sexual health.