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Sex Toys Can Show Traces of HPV 24 Hours After Use, Have Increased Chance of Spreading Virus, Despite Cleaning

Medical Daily , 04/23/2014 by Sabrina Bachai

Medical Daily reported on a study showing that shared sex toys can retain traces of human papillomavirus (HPV) even after cleaning. Researchers from the Division of Infectious Diseases at Indiana University School of Medicine investigated sex toys’ ability to transmit disease, using women ages 18–29 who were in sexual relationships with both men and women within the year prior to the study. The researchers gave each woman a cleaning product and two vibrators, one made of thermoplastic elastomer and the other of soft silicone, and instructed them to swab them after vaginal use, immediately after cleaning, and 24 hours later. The researchers detected HPV in samples from nine of 12 swabs. In the samples from the nine vibrators the HPV-positive women used, eight showed signs of the virus. After the women cleaned the vibrators, five of the nine retained traces of HPV. Two hours after cleaning the contaminated vibrators, two out of five swabs remained positive. Silicone vibrators had a lower detection rate after 24 hours. The researchers concluded that sharing sex toys potentially can transmit HPV, thus putting partners at risk of acquiring this STD. Findings expand the number of behaviors associated with HPV transmission and indicate a need for specific recommendations for cleaning sex toys. The full report, “A Study of Human Papillomavirus on Vaginally Inserted Sex Toys, Before and After Cleaning, Among Women Who Have Sex with Women and Men,” was published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections (2014; doi:10.1136/sextrans-2014-051558).

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