Kiss Not on Our List

Sep 8, 2023

One of the “catchiest” songs ever recorded is “Kiss on My List” by the best-selling duo, Hall & Oates. Certain to start an earworm if you grew up in the 80’s, here’s the chorus from the song:

Because your kiss, your kiss is on my list
Because your kiss is on my list of the best things in life
Because your kiss, your kiss is on my list
Because your kiss, your kiss I can’t resist
Because your kiss, is what I miss when I turn out the lights

The word “catchiest” in parentheses serves as a ‘pun intended’ since it is possible to “catch” human papilloma virus or HPV through open mouth kissing. See blog post Blogging about Snogging.

How possible? No one knows for sure but almost certainly less possible than through oral sex. The reason to devote more than one blog post to this topic is that HPV-driven head and neck cancer (HNC) has reached epidemic proportions with a worldwide incidence of over 900,000, making it the sixth most common malignancy. By 2030 that incidence is expected to exceed 1 million. Moreover, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States with an estimated 80% of women and 90% of sexually active men to be infected with at least one HPV type over their lifetime.[1] This makes lack of awareness and knowledge about HPV, which are pervasive, especially among teenagers and men, a concern.[2]

Of the over 100 types of HPV, only a few like types 16, 18, and several others are high risk because of their association with head and neck, cervical, and anal cancers. HPV types 6 and 11 cause anogenital warts.

The immune system most often clears HPV and antibiotics will not treat it. So, the number of positive oral HPV cases correlates not only with sexual activity, but also with decreased immunity.

Cancer development from HPV infection takes 20-25 years on average. The risk of cancer from HPV increases with exposure to tobacco and alcohol.

Consistent condom use reduces the risk of infection as does vaccination between the ages of 9-45 with the vaccine, Gardasil. Note that both men and women are eligible to receive the vaccine.

We understand that Daryl Hall, one half of Hall & Oates, is on tour. Since DH reportedly supports anticancer causes, perhaps he might consider mentioning the potential for HPV transmission from oral-to-oral and oral-to-genital sex and the importance of Gardasil vaccination during his rendition of “Kiss on My List”.

[1] Petca et al. Non-sexual HPV transmission and role of vaccination for a better future (Review). Exp Ther Med. 2020 Dec;20(6):186.

[2] Johnson et al. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2020 Nov 26;6(1):92.