Nearly half of US adults infected with genital HPV

Health experts believe that the reduction in HPV may lead to a commensurate drop in cervical cancer cases Getty Images
Health experts believe that the reduction in HPV may lead to a commensurate drop in cervical cancer cases Getty Images
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07 April, 2017

A new study led by Rutgers clinician and researcher Mark Einstein is examining a revolutionary way to block transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV), the organism that causes 99 percent of cervical cancers, using a topical gel applied during sexual activity. This virus responsible for particular types of genital cancer, causing infected people to be in a high-risk state. That can include a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Those areas include the cervix and vagina in women, the penis in men, and the anus and neck in both genders. However, the HPV vaccination can actually prevent most of those cancers - close to 28,000, at least - from occurring. The report specifically looked at adults who didn't receive recommendations to get the HPV vaccine.

About 4 percent of all adults had an oral infection with a cancer-causing strain of HPV.

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended reducing the number of shots in the HPV vaccine from three to two for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14.

It's unknown why HPV infections are more common in men than in women, but some studies suggest that men's immune systems don't respond as strongly to fight off HPV infections as women's systems do.

That percentage jumped to more than 42 percent during 2013 to 2014 if any type of genital HPV was included, the CDC found. In the United States, high-risk HPV among adults ages 18-59 was found at a staggering rate of 22.7 percent. And more men than women were infected with oral HPV, the findings showed.

The report published by the CDC also addressed the oral HPV infections among adults. Among women ages 20 to 24, the prevalence of these four strains decreased from 18.5 percent to 12.1 percent over that same period.

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According to a 2015 report, six out of 10 girls have started the HPV vaccine series, as have five of 10 boys. "The vaccine is targeted to very young kids because you have to catch them before they are sexually active". Most of these go away on their own, typically without even causing symptoms, but some HPV strains can lead to genital warts and cancer.

Wyand added that "HPV immunization is a sparkling triumph of public health". There are approximately 39,000 HPV-related cancers every year, almost two-thirds of them in women.

Electra Paskett, a cancer control researcher at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, pointed out that there's still a lack of urgency among parents to get their children vaccinated. Unfortunately, though, HPV vaccines aren't a regular part of a child's vaccine cycle, and are often singled out.

She explains that a possible solution is to introduce the vaccine to the population in a different way. It is a cancer vaccine, ' Paskett told The Washington Post.

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