HPV: The Not-So-Silent STD

virusMore than 42 percent of adults between the age of 18 and 59 are infected with genital human papillomavirus (HPV) – the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.a recent survey says.

HPV infection commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts). Certain types of HPV infection cause cervical cancers. More than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus (HPV) exist.

Different types of HPV infection cause warts on different parts of your body. For example, some types of HPV infection cause plantar warts on the feet, while others cause warts that mostly appear on the face or neck.

Most HPV infections don’t lead to cancer. But some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina (cervix). Other types of cancers, including cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva and back of the throat (oropharyngeal), have been linked to HPV infection.

In the report, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, findings indicate a high-risk strain of the virus has infected 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women. Approximately 9000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in men annually, more specifically, 63 percent of penile, 91 percent of anal, and 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers, other studies have shown.

Researchers suggest that the new data creates a sense of urgency to drive adolescents to get vaccinated, particularly young men. “If we can get 11- and 12-year-olds to get the vaccine, we’ll make some progress,” Geraldine McQuillan, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and lead author of the new study said.

“You need to give it before kids become sexually active, before they get infected,” Dr. McQuillan said. “By the time they’re in their mid-20s, people are infected and it’s too late. This is a vaccine against cancer — that’s the message.”