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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: Popular Disinfectants Do Not Kill HPV, Research Finds


Infection Control Today (02.12.2014) Aids Weekly Plus

Infection Control Today reported on a study to determine which disinfectants can destroy the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cervical and other cancers and is one of the most common STDs. To destroy HPV, healthcare settings use the same disinfectants that work on other viruses or what they believe will be effective. Since little is known about HPV susceptibility to disinfection, researchers from Penn State College of Medicine and Brigham Young University grew HPV 16, a strain of HPV that can cause up to 60 percent of HPV-associated cancers, and experimented with 11 common disinfectants to investigate what would kill the virus. Public and healthcare settings currently use disinfectants made with ethanol and isopropanol in surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers. The study showed that HPV was resistant to alcohol-based disinfectants. Other common disinfectants tested, including glutaraldehyde, which is used to sterilize medical and dental facilities, also did not deactivate HPV. These results mean that HPV may be transmitted non-sexually and can have serious consequences for healthcare facilities. Craig Meyers, distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology at Penn State College of Medicine, noted that the chemical disinfectants used in healthcare settings had no effect on HPV. He explained that unless health facilities used bleach or autoclaving, they are not killing HPV, which potentially could result in nosocomial HPV or transmission from tools or instruments. Meyers concluded that the results suggested a change in disinfectant use policies. The full report, “Susceptibility of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Type 16 to Clinical Disinfectants,” was published online in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2014; doi: 10.1093/jac/dku006).


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Information in this article was accurate in February 13, 2014. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.