Nearly half of the US adult population has been infected with HPV, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while noting higher rates of infection in men.
According to results of a recently published survey by the health administration, 45.2 percent of the adult population aged between 18 and 60 years has genital infections with at least one of the 37 types of HPV while nearly 11.5 percent has an oral infection, with rates of HPV in men higher than women. Alarmingly, the CDC has found that nearly 25 percent of US adults is infected with at least one of the 14 HPV types (of the total 37) known to cause cancers, recorded as high-risk genital infections.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is known to infect various organs in both men and women. Sex with multiple partners is a major risk factor for its spread. According to the CDC, over 79 million adults in the US live with the virus but most never learn about infection. About 14 million new cases of infections occur every year.
“The latest findings indicate that HPV infections in Black adult population is higher than in other communities; the CDC reports nearly two-third of Black adult population has HPV genital infection of which 40.3 percent are by high-risk HPV types. Genital HPV infections in non-Hispanic Asian population was lower than White, Black and Hispanic populations. Genital HPV infections in men were only slightly higher in men than women, with the biggest gender difference seen in Black population.”
Data on oral infections indicates a similar trend, with HPV in men causing more infections than in women. Nearly a sixth of all Black adults were found to have oral HPV, while 4.3 percent of Asian adults were known to be infected. Oral HPV in men accounted for more than twice the number of infections in women. High-risk oral HPV rates were similar in White and Black adult populations.
HPV is most commonly spread through sexual contact either through oral or genital route. Despite infections being common, the CDC maintains that in most cases it does not cause disease.
“Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will last longer, and can cause certain cancers and other diseases.”
CDC data also suggests higher cancer incidence in women, although HPV in men is more common. An estimated 23,000 cancers in US women can be attributed to HPV while in men, the virus is responsible for nearly 16,000 cancer cases per year. Cancer of the cervix in women and cancers of neck and mouth in men are the common cancers caused by the virus. In most HPV-caused cancers, higher rates were seen in Black population, while Asian and Pacific Islander population recorded smaller incidence.
Vaccination against certain types of the virus known to cause cancer has been available for over a decade now. The CDC mandates vaccination for all teens aged 11 or 12, with vaccination recommended for men until the age of 21 and women until 26 years.
Geraldine McQuillan, one of the study’s authors, expressed concern about the number of high-risk genital HPV infections as per recent findings.
“The next step is to increase awareness of the high prevalence of high-risk genital and oral HPV in our general US population so individuals will realize that this is a serious problem and they will get their children vaccinated in early adolescence before they become sexually active,” she told CNN.
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