- More than one in five US adults are infected with a high-risk form of HPV
- About 23 percent have a version of the virus that puts them at risk for certain cancers
- The CDC says most cases are preventable if people receive the vaccine
More than one in five US adults are infected with a high-risk form of HPV, a shocking new CDC report reveals.
About 23 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 59 have a version of the virus that puts them at risk of certain cancers, including prostate and cervical cancer.
The percentage nearly doubles if any type of genital HPV is included.
The organization says that the majority of these cases are preventable with vaccination.
A new CDC report has revealed that more than one in five US are infected with a high risk form of HPV
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the US, with approximately 80 million people currently infected.
Every year, 14 million new infections occur among teens and adults.
And while most infections disappear on their own, without even displaying symptoms, some strains can lead to genital warts and even cancers, including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectum and cervical cancer.
Approximately 28,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV are diagnosed annually – most of which would have preventable with the vaccine, the CDC says.
Over the course of 2013 and 2014, 23 percent of adults – including 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women – tested positive for high-risk genital HPV.
WHAT IS HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS?
HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection.
In fact, almost every sexually active man or woman will get it during their lifetime.
It is spread through sex and oral sex with someone who has the virus, regardless of whether they show symptoms.
Many people never show symptoms, and the majority of cases go away without treatment.
However, it can sometimes cause genital warts and/or cancer.
Symptoms can arise years after infection.
Around 99 per cent of cervical cancer diagnoses are related to infections like HPV.
HPV can also cause cancers of the throat, neck, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus.
Often, the cancer does not develop until years after a patient was infected with HPV.
That percentage jumped to more than 42 percent during the two-year period if any type of genital HPV – the most common form of the virus – was included, the CDC found.
In both groups, prevalence was higher in men than in women, and it was sharply higher among blacks compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
‘We tend to overlook the fact that 20 percent of us are carrying the virus that can cause cancer,’ lead author Geraldine McQuillan, a senior infectious disease epidemiologist at the CDC, told The Washington Post.
‘People really need to realize that this is a serious concern.’
The CDC recommends that children receive the HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12 so that they become protected before potential exposure to the virus through sexual contact.
Last month, new guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices declared the vaccine would be administered in two doses instead of three.
The new rules came after years of campaigns from cancer experts insisting an easier schedule would encourage more people to protect themselves from the sexually-transmitted infection.
While vaccination rates have been increasing, they still lag for both boys and girls.
Experts say that there are several misconceptions and fears that continue to permeate the public and result in lower rates of HPV vaccination.
According to Dr Electra Paskett, a cancer control researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, some think vaccination encourages youth to become promiscuous.
‘The way [the vaccine] was introduced in Australia and the United Kingdom was as a cancer vaccine, which is truly what it is. It is a cancer vaccine,’ Paskett told The Washington Post.
The new CDC report also addressed oral HPV infections, the second most common form.
From 2011 to 2014, their prevalence was seven percent among adults between the ages of 18 and 69.
Just as in cases of genital HPV, rates were higher for men than women overall and in all racial and ethnic groups.