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Nearly One-quarter of US Adults Have High-risk HPV

APR 13, 2017 | EINAV KEET
More than 25% of adults in the United States have some form of high-risk, cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

HPV is a common infection transmitted through intimate or sexual skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 150 forms of the virus, and some low-risk forms of HPV may cause genital warts. Although high-risk forms of the virus might not cause any visible symptoms but can lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus, as well as oral and throat cancer. Researchers have identified about a dozen forms of high-risk HPV, and most cancers related to the virus are caused by HPV 16 and 18. While most high-risk HPV infections clear up on their own within one to two years and do not lead to cancer, long-term infections can progress to cancer if left untreated. According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV 16 and 18 cause about 70% of all cervical cancers in the United States, and about 95% of anal cancers are caused by HPV 16.

A new study released by the CDC examines the prevalence of HPV in US adults, 80 million of whom are believed to be infected with the virus. “This report provides the most recent national estimates of oral HPV prevalence among adults aged 18 to 69 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2014, as well as prevalence of genital HPV among adults aged 18-59 from NHANES 2013-2014,” writes lead author Geraldine McQuillan, PhD, and her co-authors in the report. In their study, the research team found that the prevalence of any form of genital HPV among adults ages 18 to 59 was 42.5% of the population from 2013 to 2014; of that, 45.2% of men and 39.9% of women were infected. The overall rate of high-risk HPV in that age group was 22.7%, with 25.1% of men and 20.4% of women having some cancer-causing genital form of the virus.

The study team also found that from 2011 to 2014, the prevalence of any oral HPV among US adults aged 18 to 69 was a much lower 7.3%, with a 4.0% rate of high-risk oral HPV. Overall, non-Hispanic Asian adults had the lowest prevalence of high-risk oral and genital HPV, while non-Hispanic black adults had the highest prevalence of any oral and genital HPV infections.

The authors also noted that other recent reports from NHANES have examined the impact of the US HPV vaccination program on HPV prevalence in the country. As a way to cut back on the estimated 30,700 HPV-caused cancer cases that occur in the United States each year, the HPV vaccine became available in 2006 and has become a commonly administered inoculation in the United States among adolescents to prevent against the cancers caused by the virus. While three doses of the vaccine are recommended for females and males who receive the first dose between the ages of 15 and 26, new recommendations recently released by the CDC now say that only two doses are needed for those who receive the first dose between the ages of 9 and 14.
 
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