HPV Infection Is Common in U.S. Women

Human papillomavirus is common among U.S. women, especially
those in their early 20s, says the CDC.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is America's most common sexually transmitted
infection. HPV infection typically clears within two years, and most infected
people don't realize they have the virus.

However, some strains of HPV can cause cervical, anal, and other genital
cancers, note the CDC's Eileen Dunne, MD, MPH, and colleagues.

Dunne's team calculated the total number of U.S. women aged 14-59 with HPV
infection from 2003 to 2004.

More than one in four U.S. women in that age range -- nearly 27% -- had HPV
infection.

That equals nearly 25 million U.S. women, according to the CDC.

About 3 million had any of the four HPV strains targeted by Gardasil, a
vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts, the CDC
estimates.

HPV Infection in Young Women

HPV infection was most common among women aged 20-24. Nearly half of the
women in that age group (49%) had HPV infection.

A third of women aged 14-24 had HPV infection. That's nearly 7.5 million --
far more than previous estimates that 4.6 million women in that age range had
HPV.

Older women were less likely to have HPV infection, the study shows.

Data came from 1,921 women who submitted self-collected vaginal swabs for a
national health study conducted from 2003 to 2004.

The findings appear in The Journal of the American Medical
Association
.

Vaccine's Impact

The data was gathered before Gardasil became available.

Gardasil's debut may change HPV prevalence, note journal editorialists Susan
Weller, PhD, and Lawrence Stanberry, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas
Medical Branch at Galveston.

They recommend tracking HPV prevalence over time, in part, to see how
Gardasil affects the number of women with HPV strains targeted by the
vaccine.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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