HPV Infects a Quarter of All Women
More than 1 in 4 females ages 14 to 59 are infected with the sexually transmitted virus responsible, in some forms, for genital warts and cervical cancer. That's according to a new survey published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 7.5 million women between the ages of 14 and 24 carry the human papillomavirus, about 60 percent more than suggested by previous studies. The survey also found that women ages 20 to 24 are most likely to be infected.
The four strains that the new HPV vaccine protects against were found to occur in 3.4 percent of women. Most of those infected with HPV have benign strains that cause no symptoms and usually disappear over time. The new estimate "gives us a platform to measure trends and changes over time such as the effectiveness of prevention strategies like the HPV vaccine," says study leader Eileen Dunne, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. The vaccine is recommended for girls and women ages 11 to 26. Studies are now being conducted to see if it's effective in older women and the likely transmitters of the virusmen.